Meloni says ex-PM and political foe Draghi a tough act to follow

ROME (Reuters) - Giorgia Meloni admitted on Thursday that her predecessor and supposed political foe Mario Draghi was a tough act to follow as prime minister, and suggested she was happy to seek advice from her high-profile predecessor.

Meloni, who has far-right political roots and is relatively untested as a leader, was sworn in two months ago at the head of a right-wing coalition including political veterans Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini.

Her Brothers of Italy was the only major political party that stayed out of the national unity government that Draghi - the widely respected former head of the European Central Bank - ran from February 2021 until last October.

"I definitely feel the weight (of Draghi), because comparisons are continuous and reiterated," Meloni told an end-of-year news conference.

"Clearly I speak to him and I like that, in the sense that measuring myself against capable and authoritative people has been a lifelong challenge for me," Meloni said.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera last week, Draghi was also complimentary about Meloni, saying she had proven to be "an able leader", who enjoyed a "strong electoral mandate".

Meloni, 45, has shown some continuity with the Draghi government. She has kept the euro zone's third largest economy in compliance with the bloc's budget discipline rules, which that she had criticised in the past, and reaffirmed support for Ukraine in the war against Russia.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Giselda Vagnoni and John Stonestreet)