Mario Draghi, the man credited with largely saving the euro currency, on Saturday formally took the helm as Italy’s premier, after crafting a government that balances economic experts and other technocrats with career politicians from across the spectrum to guide the pandemic-devastated nation toward recovery.
Ending weeks of political crisis, Draghi and his Cabinet ministers took their oaths of office in a ceremony at the Quirinal presidential palace in front of President Sergio Mattarella. It was Mattarella who tasked Draghi, a former chief of the European Central Bank as well as of Italy’s central bank, with trying to form a government up to managing the Covid-19 health, economic and social crises.
Perhaps in a sign of Draghi’s intent to get quickly to work in healing Italy, the swearing-in ceremony began three minutes early. In deference to coronavirus precautions, all participants in the ceremony were masked, and a palace aide provided each minister with a fresh pen to sign their oath.
After days of back-and-forth with political leaders, Draghi on Friday evening announced a government deftly balancing economic experts and other technocrats with politicians from parties ranging from left to right. Given how the pandemic lockdowns have pummeled Italy’s already-stagnant economy, Draghi chose for the crucial post of economy minister a non-political appointee, Daniele Franco, who has served both in Italian central bank posts and as the state’s accountant.
Eager to have some role in deciding how Italy will spend some 209 billion euros (about $250 billion), politicians from parties that have spent years demonizing each other set aside differences, at least for now, and agreed to join a Draghi government.