Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has accepted a request from Italy’s president to form a national unity government.
Sergio Mattarella met with Draghi in Rome where the latter was asked to guide the country through the Covid-19 pandemic and the most severe economic crisis in Italian post-war history.
The two met following the failure of last-ditch negotiations among political parties to produce a viable governing coalition.
Draghi, who has built a reputation as one of Europe’s most highly regarded public officials, will now replace caretaker premier Giuseppe Conte who was forced to resign on January 26th after ex-prime minister Matteo Renzi removed ministers of his centrist Italy Alive party from government.
Speaking at the country’s presidential palace, Draghi said: “I thank the president of the Republic for the trust he has granted me. It is a difficult moment”. He added: “Defeating the pandemic, completing the vaccination campaign, offering answers to citizens, relaunching the country: these are the challenges we face”.
Draghi, 73, has no history in electoral politics but was dubbed “Super Mario” after having saved the euro during Europe’s debt crisis.
He must now strive to win enough support among the country’s lawmakers in order to form a new unity government. Failure to do so would likely trigger snap elections, an outcome Mattarella believes would cause significant uncertainty in the midst of a global pandemic.
With the collapse of Conte’s government, Italy now lacks political stability. In an appeal for unity, Draghi said: “It’s a difficult moment. We have the chance to do a lot for our country”.
Italy currently has over 89,000 confirmed deaths, the second-highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe after Britain.