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3 Feb, 2021 14:00

Former ECB chief Mario Draghi asked to become Italian prime minister and form new government – reports

Former ECB chief Mario Draghi asked to become Italian prime minister and form new government – reports

The former head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, has been given a mandate by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to form a government, an official told reporters on Wednesday.

The pair met for an hour at the Quirinale Palace on Wednesday morning, where Mattarella reportedly asked Draghi to form a technocratic, non-political government to replace that of caretaker prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

Conte resigned last week after he lost his majority in the Senate, when the small party Italia Viva, led by ex-PM Matteo Renzi, withdrew its support from the ruling coalition government.

Part of Renzi’s opposition to Conte was over his plan to spend more than €200 billion ($240 billion) of EU cash and loans to ease Italy’s economic crisis, which has been compounded by the pandemic.

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Hailed as ‘Super Mario’ by some in the media for his work at the ECB, Draghi will now have to garner support from lawmakers from across Italy’s fragmented political system to form a coalition government.

The economist already has a political headache in the form of Italy’s Five Star Movement, its largest party, which has said it will not back him as PM.

This means Draghi would need support from the next two largest parties, the center-left Democratic Party and right-wing League, which oppose each other but may both have to offer their support for a government to be formed.

Draghi was made chief of the eurozone’s central bank in 2011, leading it through the worst of the banking crisis, and famously vowed the ECB would do “whatever it takes” to support the euro.

Italy is used to dramatic politics, caused by resignations and reshuffles, and has had 66 governments since 1945.

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