Mario Draghi will be Italy’s next prime minister after presenting the country’s president with a national unity government that will be tasked with marshalling a recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
On Friday evening, Draghi, a former president of the European Central Bank, met with Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s head of state, to formally accept his request to form a new government, having won the backing of almost every large political party. Draghi will be sworn in at midday on Saturday, the president’s office said.
Draghi, one of Europe’s most highly regarded public officials, was unexpectedly called in by Mattarella earlier this month after the previous coalition collapsed in the middle of the latest pandemic wave.
After the meeting, Draghi announced his list of ministers, which includes a number of technocrats in central roles but is mainly made up of figures from the country’s largest political parties.
Daniele Franco, Bank of Italy director-general, will become Italy’s new economy minister, and Vittorio Colao, former Vodafone chief executive, will be appointed as innovation and technology minister.
Significant continuity has also been kept with ministers from the outgoing government of Giuseppe Conte, with Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement remaining as foreign minister, and the non-affiliated Luciana Lamorgese staying as interior minister. Roberto Speranza, currently health minister, will also remain in post.
Out of 25 ministers, 15 are from the parties that will back the coalition in the parliament, and ten are non-politicians. The party with the largest representation is the formerly anti-establishment Five Star Movement with four ministers, while Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing Forza Italia party makes a return to government for the first time since 2011 with three.
The centre-left Democratic party and Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League both will have three ministers each, with the remaining two going to former prime minister Matteo Renzi’s centrist Italia Viva and the left-wing Free and Equal Party. Out of the total, 17 are male and eight are female.
Like other countries around the world, Italy has been hit by a twin health and economic crisis, suffering more than 92,000 deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic and its deepest economic contraction since the second world war.
Draghi’s appointment will be the fourth time in three decades that a technocratic prime minister has taken charge following the premierships of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 1993, Lamberto Dini in 1995 and Mario Monti in 2011.
However, the list of ministers selected by Draghi is different from previous so-called technical governments by including a large majority of ministers from Italy’s political parties.
Unlike the previous experiment in technocratic government when the former European Commissioner Monti was tasked with enacting an austerity drive, Draghi instead will take charge of drawing up plans to spend more than €200bn of European Union recovery money.
He will also start his premiership as one of the country’s most popular politicians. An opinion poll, conducted by Demos earlier this month, showed that he had overtaken the outgoing prime minister Giuseppe Conte in national approval ratings.
Even though Draghi only entered domestic politics less than two weeks ago, sky-high hopes about his impact on the country’s future have pushed the price that Rome pays to borrow compared to Germany to its lowest level in over five years.
During consultations with political parties over the past week the prospect of a Draghi-led unity government has also upended the political landscape, with several large parties radically changing their positions to join his coalition.
Salvini’s League and the Five Star Movement, both of which were previously hostile to the EU and the single currency, have pledged their support for a man seen as a pillar of the European establishment.
In an online vote held on Thursday, rank-and-file members of the Five Star Movement held a poll that was binding on its leadership to approve the backing of Draghi. This means that the formerly anti-establishment party will become part of a coalition alongside its once sworn enemy, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
With the support of Five Star and the League, the two largest in the current Italian parliament, along with the backing of the centre-left Democratic Party, Draghi is set to begin his government with a huge majority as he starts work on trying to lift the country out of the crisis.