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Italy's and the EU's flags flying full-mast at Rome's Chigi Palace indicate the first Council of Ministers of the new government is in course Italy's and the EU's flags flying full-mast at Rome's Chigi Palace indicate the first Council of Ministers of the new government is in course   (ANSA)

Italy gets a new government

Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, is sworn in on Saturday as Italy’s new Prime Minister together with his 23-member cabinet.

By Susy Hodges

Italy's President Sergio Mattarella asked Mario Draghi to be premier after the previous administration, led by Giuseppe Conte, collapsed amid a row over how to spend an EU economic recovery fund.  

Nick-named “Super Mario” for his role in saving the euro currency, Draghi is a highly respected figure and his appointment has been greeted with delight by most political observers.

His cabinet contains a mixture of figures from across the political spectrum and several non-affiliated technocrats. Luigi Di Maio, a leader of the populist 5-Star Movement remains as foreign minister while Giancarlo Giorgetti, a senior figure in the rightwing League party, becomes industry minister. The economy ministry has gone to Daniele Franco, the current director-general of the Bank of Italy.

Draghi also agreed to install a new ministry of “ecological transition” which helped to win over the 5-Star Movement for whom green issues are core concerns.

The premier’s next step will be to unveil his policy plans during debates in both houses of parliament where he will face two votes of confidence that are seen as a formality given his cross-party backing.

One of the reasons so many parties have joined forces in the new coalition is that they all want to have a say in how Italy spends more than 200 billion euros it is set to receive from the EU post-Covid economic recovery fund.  The nation is suffering its worst recession since World War Two as a result of the lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Italy is still grappling with the virus and has registered over 93,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, the second-highest toll in Europe.

For the moment Draghi enjoys widespread support with some in the national media describing him as a “new Italian miracle”.  However, he faces a daunting task to revive Italy’s fortunes and not fall prey to the frequent squabbles among the nation’s political factions that has brought down many a government in the past.

Listen to the report by Susy Hodges
13 February 2021, 15:05