The situation in Italy became extremely complicated on Tuesday night. There was no inter-party agreement and Giuseppe Conte, the resigned prime minister, quietly began packing his things in the Chigi palace.
When things were worse, the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, pulled out of his hat the political rabbit that everyone had talked about in the last six months and no one had really dared to imagine in that position: Mario Draghi.
The former president of the European Central Bank (ECB), one of the most prestigious Italians in recent decades, met this Wednesday with the head of state and was commissioned to try to form an institutional government.
Draghi appeared after dispatching for almost an hour and a half with Mattarella and did not hide the difficulty of the assignment. “This is a difficult time. The president recalled the dramatic health crisis. With its serious effects on people’s lives, on the economy and society.
It requires a response commensurate with the situation. And with this hope and commitment, I have responded positively to the president’s call, ”he said. “Defeating the pandemic, completing the vaccination campaign and relaunching the country are the challenges that await us.
We have the extraordinary resources of the EU. We have the opportunity to do a lot for our country with an attentive look at young people and the reinforcement of social cohesion ”, he insisted.
Mattarella’s idea is that Draghi, the tightrope walker who saved the euro,be able to form a team of ministers that combines excellence and, at the same time, manages to satisfy the different sensitivities of the parliamentary arch to the maximum.
A technical government, but with a substantially political character. It is crucial to have broad and horizontal support in both Chambers, something for which he starts with advantage given his historical political impartiality in Italy and his extreme discretion when commenting on the current situation in the country in recent years.
“I will address Parliament with respect. I am confident that after the dialogue with the parties and social forces a unit will emerge capable of giving a positive and responsible response to the president’s request ”. An hour later the stock market rose and the Italian risk premium plummeted.
Draghi has the unconditional support of his promoter and the man who opened this government crisis two months ago by announcing it in this newspaper: the leader of Italia Viva, Matteo Renzi.Also, probably, from the Democratic Party.
But you will have several days to work on it. If it goes well, the new Executive – all the ministers – should swear before Mattarella himself in the coming days and then submit to the vote of the Chambers. A process that could be extended until at least the end of next week and that would make him the sixth consecutive prime minister since 2008 who has not left the polls (Monti, Letta, Renzi, Gentiloni and Conte).
But, from the outset, he will encounter a first obstacle: the refusal of the 5 Star Movement (M5S), the party with the largest parliamentary representation.
The grillinos won the elections in 2018 with 33% of the votes. Founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo, the party entered the palaces of Roman power shouting “Vaffanculo” [Fuck it!] And promised to liquidate the old order of politics.
The idea of supporting Draghi, a banker who represents the quintessential establishment, opens a huge fracture within the formation. Nobody forgives Draghi his time at Goldman Sachs, which in the imaginary anti-system is equivalent to naming Satan.
But the M5S today does not have a clear leader – the power of Giuseppe Conte and the distribution of positions held them together – and it is not clear if they will be able to act as a unit in the next few hours. On Tuesday night, two heavyweights already announced that they would reject that route. But the position of the former prime minister, who has not yet spoken, could be key.
La Liga is the other party that could have problems with this decision. Their leader, Matteo Salvini , had repeatedly positioned himself in favor of Draghi. At least as a transition option to an election. The main strategist of the party and representative of the moderate wing, Giancarlo Giorgetti, had also invoked his name in recent weeks as the only way out of the crisis.
But the League has two souls: a part of the extreme right, populist and somewhat eurosceptic, who wants elections and is opposed to technocratic options. But also that of the old right in northern Italy, linked to the bosses and companies, who ask that the party not do crazy things and allow the country to get out of the crisis with Mattarella’s candidate. And in a year, it will be seen.
Forza Italia, on the other hand, would support the Draghi process. Silvio Berlusconi was one of its promoters heading Bankitalia in 2005 and the ECB itself.
Although the fall of Il Cavaliere in 2011 – the same year that Draghi entered the European institution – was based on some reports made then from Frankfurt, the party has already been in charge of airing that Berlusconi has always maintained an excellent relationship with Draghi. The rest of the center-right parties that orbit Forza Italia, the result of previous splits, have also already expressed their willingness to support it.
The arrival of Draghi to the Quirinal was received by a group of citizens who spontaneously carried letters with his name proclaiming him president. The former banker maintains in Italy the aura of maximum prestige. He returned to the country two years ago a legend after having weathered the financial crisis.
A management for which he will always be remembered for that ” whatever it takes ” [“we will do whatever it takes “]. An expression coined to basically announce that unlimited money would be pumped into the European economy to save it.
That excellent management, which managed to move the euro forward and the balance in countries like Spain or Italy itself, is the best visiting card for the banker now to try to convince the parties.