Ex-ECB chief Draghi to be asked to form Italian government

GERMANY-ECB-BANKING-DRAGHI-AWARD

Lower House Speaker Roberto Fico is holding more talks on Tuesday with the parties that had been allied in supporting Giuseppe Conte's government.

Mattarella said Italy could not go through a long period without a government and with an election campaign for an early-parliamentary election when the country is going through a critical period due to the pandemic.

However, there was no guarantee that the highly respected Mr Draghi would be able to muster sufficient support, with the largest party in parliament, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, immediately ruling out its backing.

Nicknamed "Super Mario", the 73-year-old was credited with playing a crucial role in saving Europe's single currency, the euro, when he was the European Central Bank's president.

Draghi's name has emerged as a potential premier in recent weeks as political turmoil combines with the health and economic emergencies.

The first European country to be hit by the coronavirus, Italy has seen more than 89,000 deaths since its outbreak nearly a year ago - the sixth-highest toll in the world.

Sergio Mattarella's spokesman said he would meet Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, on Wednesday, when he is widely expected to ask him to take over as a technocratic prime minister.

Italy was the first European country to face the full force of Covid-19 and is still suffering, with new data showing the economy shrank 8.9 percent in 2020 - the biggest contraction since the end of World War II.

Asked if Draghi would have enough support from parliament, Castellani added: "Mattarella has used the only weapon that could avert the elections. he will find a majority".

The breakdown in talks prompted a round of finger-pointing from the main parties.

League party leader Matteo Salvini speaks during a news conference at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy January 29, 2021.

"We have five priorities and we will decide according to those", Salvini told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview. "The Democratic Party will have to think about what to do in relation to what others are doing", said PD deputy leader Andrea Orlando. But taking the job would carry risks for him.

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