Mario Draghi names rainbow coalition to spend Italy’s coronavirus billions

Italy has been hit hard by the pandemic but has $242.56bn in EU recovery funds coming its way

Mario Draghi waves to photographers in Rome before his appointment was confirmed. EPA
Mario Draghi waves to photographers in Rome before his appointment was confirmed. EPA

Mario Draghi took charge of Italy's new government and unveiled a political rainbow with a splash of technocrats on board to tackle Italy’s route out of coronavirus chaos.

So far, he has the wind in his sails -- almost all of Italy's main parties are behind him, the stock market is up, borrowing costs have fallen to record lows and his personal popularity is soaring.

Mr Draghi, 73, was previously head of the European Central Bank, where he is widely credited with saving the euro currency.

"Mario Draghi is probably the best, the best, the best man to serve as prime minister in this moment," said former prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Following a week of consultations, almost all the main parties from across the political spectrum have endorsed Mr Draghi and he has named a number of prominent figures from these various groups as ministers to cement their support.

One of the reasons so many parties have joined forces in the ruling coalition is that they all want to have a say in how Italy spends the more than 200 billion euros ($242.56bn) it is set to receive from a European Union economic recovery fund.

"When there is a problem, he studies it very carefully, he listens to a wide range of opinions, but when he makes his decision, he leaves it to others to follow up,” said Alessandro Speciale, a journalist and Draghi biographer.

Mr Draghi earned a doctorate from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States and taught economics in several Italian universities.

After spending six years at the World Bank from 1984 to 1990, he led the treasury department at the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance for a decade, working under nine separate governments.

Luigi Di Maio, a leader of the Five Star Movement, will remain foreign minister, while Giancarlo Giorgetti, a senior figure in the Lega Nord, will be industry minister. Andrea Orlando, from the centre-left Democratic Party, will be labour minister.

Among the non-affiliated technocrats in the new line-up are Daniele Franco, director general of the Bank of Italy, who was named as economy minister, and Roberto Cingolani, a physicist and IT expert, who was handed the new role of minister for green transition.

Mario Draghi, Italy's prime minister-designate, left, speaks at a news conference following a meeting with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella in Rome, Italy, on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Draghi agreed to take over as Italy’s next prime minister, naming his ministers as he prepares to head a new government that will prioritize the pandemic, a struggling economy and moving ahead with European integration. Photographer: Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA/Bloomberg
Draghi speaks after a meeting with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella. ANSA

The new team will be sworn in on Saturday, opening the way for debates in both houses of parliament early next week, where Mr Draghi will unveil his policy plans and face votes of confidence -- a formality, given his cross-party backing.

Mr Draghi received a boost on Thursday when the largest group in parliament, the Five Star Movement, agreed to support the government, meaning it will have such a large majority that no single party will have the numbers to bring it down.

Published: February 13, 2021 01:02 AM

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