Rome: Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, 73, on Saturday sworn in as Italy’s new prime minister, against the backdrop of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and a crippling economy.
His appointment to the high office came in amid corona induced health crisis, that has killed more than 93,000 people in the country, and has brought political instability.
During his oath swearing ceremony, Draghi recited, “I swear to be loyal to the Republic,” as he stood before President Sergio Mattarella in the ornate presidential palace.
Members of his new cabinet; that includes technocrats, veteran politicians and ministers held over from the previous government, each took the oath to office.
The former Banker was parachuted in by Mattarella after the previous centre-left coalition under premier Giuseppe Conte collapsed, leading Italy rudderless at a critical time.
Spending the last 10 days, assembling a broad-based coalition, Draghi on Friday night formally accepted the post of premier in a meeting with Mattarella, after which he publicly revealed the new cabinet for the first time.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, he will be presented to the Senate, the upper house of parliament, followed by the lower Chamber of Deputies and on Thursday for a confidence vote that will give the final official blessing to his government.
To note, Draghi has the support of a rainbow coalition ranging from leftists to Matteo Salvini’s far-right League, including the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and Italia Viva, who all made-up the previous government and then fell out over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
M5S, the biggest party in parliament which started out as an anti-establishment movement, was split over whether to support a government led by an unelected technocrat. However, in an online vote, members backed Draghi by 59 percent, after securing the promise of a new super-ministry for “ecological transition”.
Talking about the huge challenges awaiting for Draghi with his new position as a PM, Italy is going through the worst recession since World War II and is also grappling to survive this worldwide pandemic.
The citizens of Italy seems to believe in him who had promised them to do “whatever it takes” to save the eurozone in the midst of the 2010s debt crisis. Although he himself has no political power base but can count on his experience during years working in the Italian civil service, as well as his banking career.
His arrival saw a dramatic plunge in financial markets as Italy’s borrowing costs registered a historic low this week.
Nevertheless, “it is difficult to overstate the scale of the challenges that Draghi and Italy face”, said Luigi Scazzieri of the Centre for European Reform.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 induced shutdown has also shrunk the country’s economy by a staggering 8.9 percent last year, whereas more than 420,000 people lost their jobs. Italy is pinning its hopes on receiving more than 220 billion euros ($267 billion) in EU recovery funds to help get back on its feet.