Former ECB President Mario Draghi was to conclude on Saturday in Rome a first round of fruitful consultations in an attempt to form a parliamentary majority and break the political deadlock Italy, struggling with a double economic and health crisis.
Nicknamed “Super Mario” for his role in the rescue of the euro zone in 2012 in the midst of the debt crisis, Mario Draghi was called up by President Sergio Mattarella after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, released by a pivotal party member of his coalition.
He hopes to rally on his behalf formations at the antipodes on the political spectrum, from the Democratic Party (PD, center left), to the League (far right) of Matteo Salvini, within a transitional cabinet responsible for setting music the economic recovery plan and the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 which has already killed more than 90,000 people in the country.
Mr. Draghi has already secured the support of small parties and parliamentary groups, as well as the PD and Italia Viva, the centrist party of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who blew up the outgoing government by withdrawing his ministers, due to a disagreement on the stimulus plan.
The training of magnate and former chief executive Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia (FI, center right), has also pledged to support him.
Mario Draghi “has already received the confidence of Europe and the markets. It will soon record the confidence of Parliament ”, forecasts the big daily Il Corriere della Sera.
For analyst Wolfgango Piccoli of the Teneo cabinet, “the question is no longer ‘if’ Draghi will be able to form a government, but ‘how’, in other words which parties will join the coalition”.
He still has to raise several mortgages to hope to take control of the 67th Italian government since the end of the Second World War.
Unsurprisingly, the far-right Fratelli d’Italia party told him no. But it is the positions of the two parties with the largest number of parliamentarians, the 5 Star Movement (M5S, anti-system until it came to power) and the League, which will be decisive.
The M5S, which alone has nearly a third of the deputies and senators, is far from being won over to its cause. The outgoing Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, supported until the end by the M5S of which he is very close without being a member, promised Thursday not to be “an obstacle” for Mr. Draghi, to whom he wished “good luck! “. “I have always worked for the good of the country,” he said.
For its part, the League will have to overcome its aversion to the presence of the PD in a rallying government and to the very personality of Mr. Draghi, incarnation of the European elite hated by the sovereignist, anti-immigration and Eurosceptic movement. . But Matteo Salvini, Minister of the Interior during the first Conte government (2018-2019), said he was ready to find a portfolio. He would likely have to force his troops’ decision, perhaps at the cost of an internal fracture.
A colossal challenge
Mr. Draghi is expected to meet with “social forces”, unions, associations and professional organizations on Monday, before a second round table with all political parties over the following days.
For the 73-year-old economist, the challenge is colossal.
Italy hopes to receive the lion’s share – around € 200 billion – of the European stimulus fund adopted in July, but must submit a detailed spending plan to Brussels by the end of April.
The third-largest economy in the euro zone is struggling, hit by the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The peninsula suffered one of the worst GDP drops in the euro zone in 2020, with a plunge of 8.9%.
The first country affected by the pandemic in Europe, Italy had imposed strict containment in March and April, paralyzing a large part of its economic fabric.
If Mr. Draghi does not manage to find a parliamentary majority, or if he does not obtain the confidence of the Parliament after taking office, early legislative elections could be considered.
President Mattarella, the only one able to cause elections before the normal term of the legislature in 2023, however made it clear on Tuesday that he wanted to avoid an early poll in the midst of a health and economic crisis.