Draghi forms new Italian government, names politicians, technocrats as ministers

Crispian Balmer and Gavin Jones
·3-min read

By Crispian Balmer and Gavin Jones

ROME (Reuters) - Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, took charge of Italy's new government on Friday, and unveiled a cabinet that mixed unaffiliated technocrats with politicians from across his broad coalition.

President Sergio Mattarella asked Draghi to be prime minister after party wrangling brought down the previous administration, and set him the task of tackling the coronavirus health crisis and economic meltdown pummelling the country.

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

Luigi Di Maio, a leader of the 5-Star Movement, will remain foreign minister, while Giancarlo Giorgetti, a senior figure in the League party, will be industry minister. Andrea Orlando, from the centre-left Democratic Party, will be labour minister.

However, some key posts went to non-affiliated technocrats, including 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.

There were only eight women in the 23-strong cabinet.

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

Draghi received a boost on Thursday when the largest group in parliament, the 5-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.

RECOVERY FUND

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 more than 200 billion euros ($242.56 billion) it is set to receive from a European Union economic recovery fund.

Draghi, 73, is widely credited with having saved the euro currency during his time in charge of the ECB and he will no doubt be influential now in shaping EU debate on how the bloc should engineer its economic revival.

Politicians he met this week said he told them he is opposed to fiscal austerity, despite soaring national debt levels, given the importance of protecting social cohesion.

He also honoured a pledge to create the powerful new ministry for ecological transition, which combines the environment and energy portfolios, helping win over the 5-Star for whom green issues are core concerns.

Policies to fight climate change are required to be a pillar of the Recovery Plans to be presented by EU countries to the European Commission by April.

Draghi has also said he will make the anti-coronavirus vaccine programme a priority. Italy has registered some 93,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe.

(Additional reporting by Angelo Amante, Giuseppe Fonte and Giselda Vagnoni, editing by Gavin Jones)