Italian president Sergio Mattarella has called on former European Central bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi to form a new technocrat government following the resignation of Giuseppe Conte rather than call fresh elections.
Mr Draghi accepted the offer to form a government on Wednesday after a meeting with the Italian president and will begin talks with various political parties in the parliament to secure the majority needed to properly govern the country. Britain’s Daily Telegraph responded to the decision, calling it a breath-taking stitch-up.
If Draghi is unable to come to terms with enough parties to form a solid majority, he will likely return to President Mattarella and refuse the position of Italian prime minister, Il Giornale reports.
Should he form a new government, it would not be the first time in recent years a pro-European Union figure has come to head the Italian national government.
Following the resignation of long-serving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2011, European Commissioner Mario Monti was appointed prime minister and led a technocrat government from November 2011 to April 2013.
Draghi spoke to Italian media following his meeting with President Mattarella, saying: “This is a difficult time. The president recalled the dramatic health crisis with its serious effects on people’s lives, on the economy, on society.”
Italian Govt on Brink of Collapse, Right Wing Coalition Leading in Snap Election Polls https://t.co/VxYovkjw5r
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“Overcoming the pandemic, completing the vaccination campaign, giving solutions to the everyday problems of citizens, and relaunching the country are the challenges that confront us. We have at our disposal the extraordinary resources of the EU. We have the opportunity to do a lot for our country by carefully looking at the future of the younger generation and by strengthening social cohesion,” he added.
Populist senator and leader of the League Matteo Salvini said he would support Draghi’s appointment on certain conditions, including a guarantee of a national election in May or June, at the latest.
Salvini also demanded that Draghi not raise any taxes and pushed for the League policy of introducing a 15 per cent flat tax on incomes.
The populist leader also hit back against concerns made by President Mattarella on the safety of a national vote due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, saying that elections were already scheduled in Calabria in April.
“In addition, 1,300 municipalities will also go to the polls, including towns such as Rome, Milan, Turin, Naples, and Bologna. Twenty million Italians will be called to the polls. If there can be 20 million, I think they may be as many as 60 million,” he said.
A Draghi government also threatens to tear apart the Five Star Movement (M5S), which has been ailing in recent polls.
According to Il Giornale, a split in the movement exists between those who support Draghi and those against him, such as senate vice-president Paola Taverna who rejected a technocrat government and said: “We believe that the only way forward is early elections. Citizens must be able to choose who will have to raise the fortunes of our country.”