Crisis-hit Italy turns to former European Bank Bhief Draghi

ROME (AFP) – Italy’s President was expected yesterday to ask, the former head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi to lead the country out of the devastating coronavirus pandemic after the coalition government collapsed.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella called in Draghi after Italy’s ruling parties failed to agree on a new government following a split last month that forced Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to resign.

Italian economist Draghi credited with saving the Eurozone at the height of the debt crisis in 2012, is expected to try to put together a government of national unity to navigate the still-raging pandemic.

More than 89,000 people have died since COVID-19 swept across Italy one year ago, while restrictions and the collapse of tourism have plunged the economy into recession.

Meanwhile, the government has only a few weeks to come up with a credible plan to spend more than EUR200billion in European Union (EU) recovery funds.

Conte’s centre-left coalition had been in power since September 2019 but was fatally weakened last month when former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party in a row over the handling of the pandemic.

Conte finally resigned last week, but hoped to return with a new government comprising the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (DP).

Italian President Sergio Mattarella (L) shakes hand with former head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi. PHOTO: AFP