Draghi says he has enough support to form Italy's new government

Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi

Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi will be sworn-in on Saturday.

Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement began voting on Thursday on whether to support a cabinet led by former European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, in what could be one of the final steps before a new government is formed.

Leaders of M5S, the biggest party in parliament, had indicated early on that they would support Draghi's efforts to form a broad-based new government - but the membership was divided. Draghi also has the support of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia and former Premier Matteo Renzi's Italy Alive Party.

Daniele Franco, the current director-general of the Bank of Italy who belongs to no political party, has been tapped as the new Finance minister.

Italy has been without a fully functioning government for nearly a month since former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party from Conte's coalition, which also included the M5S and centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Mr Draghi has also submitted the names of his Cabinet members to President Sergio Mattarella, who has the job of naming them.

The government faces a confidence vote next week - a formality given its cross-party backing.

Nearly all the main parties are behind him, from leftists to Matteo Salvini's far-right League, and including the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and Italia Viva, who shared power before.

Last year's shutdown and waves of subsequent restrictions plunged the eurozone's third-largest economy into its worst recession since World War II, and more than 420,000 people have lost their jobs.

Draghi, a prominent economist, accepted the top role on Friday and later that day read out a list of ministerial picks designed to create buy-in among political parties that have battled on practically every topic.

But in an online vote, members backed Draghi by 59 percent, after securing the promise of a new super-ministry for "ecological transition".

Draghi's arrival was greeted with delight on the financial markets - Italy's borrowing costs dropped to a historic low this week - but the task facing him is huge.

But "it is hard to overstate the scale of the challenges that Draghi and Italy face", said Luigi Scazzieri, of the Centre for European Reform.

Draghi has spent the last nine days assembling a government of national unity to manage the deadly pandemic that hit Italy nearly exactly one year ago, triggering a deep recession.

The Draghi-led government includes fierce political rivals, who at least for the moment - and with the promise of 200 billion euros in European Union recovery funds - are agreeing to put aside their differences.

Highlighting Italy's political instability, Draghi's government is the 67th to take office since 1946 and the seventh in the last decade alone.

But Draghi will have to balance demands for immediate hand-outs against the need for long-term structural reforms in Italy - tensions that brought down the last government.

"But spending funds is not enough", noted researcher Scazzieri, adding that the new premier "will find it just as challenging to enact long-called for reforms".



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