Can Draghi lead Italy out of its crisis?

In Rome, the former ECB president Mario Draghi has cleared the first hurdle on his path to forming a new government. Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the social democratic PD pledged their support last week and then the right-wing populist Lega and the populist Five Star Movement followed suit on Saturday. It is still unclear whether Draghi is planning to head a cabinet made up solely of experts or whether the parties will receive ministerial posts.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

A palpable void

Suddenly everyone is willing to step in and govern, jests columnist Ezio Mauro in La Repubblica:

“None of the political players can now afford to take responsibility for destroying the only project that can save the country. ... Yet the wooly consensus is more the result of fear than of politics. After Mattarella's either-or appeal, political society as a whole has been confronted with its impotence - capable of daringly triggering a crisis but clearly incapable of solving it. The void is palpable: there is not only a lack of leaders and vision, but also of identity, history, tradition and values, in other words of the political culture that shapes decisions in difficult moments and justifies them with the protection of legitimate interests and democratic representation.”

Le Monde (FR) /

More than a technocrat

For Le Monde, Draghi brings not only professional but also political qualities:

“The former ECB chef's technical skills are undeniable, and could come in handy at a time when the 209 billion euros from the European recovery fund offer a historic opportunity to correct some of the country's weaknesses. But they alone do not explain why President Mattarella decided to bring Mario Draghi out of retirement at this crucial time. ... No, the crisis that brought Draghi back was primarily political. And if he appeared to be a safe candidate it was because of the political qualities he demonstrated when it came to saving the euro.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Politics and competence inseparable

Differentiating between a cabinet of experts and a political cabinet is nonsense, philosopher Massimo Cacciari argues in La Stampa:

“What is this ridiculous division between politics and competence? After thirty years of demagogy and populism - certainly not the sole privilege of the right - we've forgotten the ABC of what real politics is. There has never been politics that didn't benefit from real competences. Just like science and technology, politics and competence form a unit in the modern world. Not necessarily in one person, but in the organisations that politicians stand for and represent.”

Il Manifesto (IT) /

Power of money takes charge

Commenting in Il Manifesto, sociologist Marco Revelli is appalled that of all people a banker is being called in to solve the crisis:

“Traditional politics has been dealt a death blow. Not just a government or yet another coalition on its last legs, but politics tout court. ... It's official: all protagonists, both in the majority and the opposition, have proved unable to get out of this mess. A mess into which they were driven by unscrupulous political pirates like Matteo Renzi, who de facto announced their provisional takeover by a 'man from the banks', which is what Mario Draghi essentially is. If the assumption is correct that the true sovereign reveals itself in a 'state of emergency', then in our case this sovereign is the power of money, in the form of its priests and managers.”

The Guardian (GB) /

The right choice, but only for a short time

The Guardian is not entirely comfortable with the fact that an unelected technocratic government is taking charge in Rome for the second time in ten years:

“Unlike Mr Monti 10 years ago, prime minister Draghi would have money to burn. His track record suggests he would use it wisely. But assuming sufficient parliamentary support is forthcoming, his reign should be as brief as is feasible. Shuttling back and forth between populist demagogues and dry technocrats is in danger of becoming the default pattern of Italian politics. To resort to two unelected leaders in the space of a decade is not a good look for any self-respecting democracy, however grave the crisis.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

A double opportunity

Draghi is the right man for the job, Italy correspondent Dominik Straub writes in the Aargauer Zeitung:

“The economist and financial expert Draghi can be trusted to tackle the structural reforms in the stagnating, self-doubting Italy that he has been calling for for years. And with his knowledge of the mechanisms in Brussels, he's also the right man to draw up a plan for using the billions in subsidies from the EU Recovery Fund. Draghi plus the 209 billion from the fund: Italy won't get another double opportunity like this anytime soon. But Mario Draghi will also have to work together with the old parliament, which is still dominated by two populist and generally anti-European parties. ... And even 'Super-Mario' can't beat the maths.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Good that snap election has been avoided

Desperate situations, an extraordinary solution was needed, finds El Periódico de Catalunya:

“A technocratic government is always an extreme solution for a parliamentary democracy, in which the will of the citizens and the formation of a majority in the chambers of parliament should take precedence. Nonetheless, President Sergio Mattarella's decision should be applauded. ... Holding snap elections in the current situation - with an unprecedented social crisis caused by Covid-19, which has left around 90,000 people dead - would have been a failure for Italy and a cause of concern for all Europe.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

The most European of all options

While Italy is hoping for the best, Europe has already scored a victory, La Repubblica's EU correspondent Andrea Bonanni comments:

“In Brussels, people are heaving a big sigh of relief, although they are still wondering whether Draghi will be able to get a sufficiently solid majority behind him to carry out the extensive reforms that are the prerequisite for EU funding. ... Precisely the lack of a reform strategy was the great weakness of the Conte government. If Europe were a player on Rome's political stage (and in a way it is), it would be the only true victor to emerge from this solution to Italy's political crisis. Nothing could be a more faithful reflection of the worries about the incompetence of Italy's politicians that have plagued Brussels and the European capitals for months than Draghi's appointment.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A moment of hope

Maurizio Molinari, editor-in-chief of La Repubblica, sees a chance to break the deadlock - also for the failed politicians:

“The situation is dramatic because with more than 88,000 dead, a battered economy, hundreds of thousands of bankrupt companies, millions of workers facing dismissal and the recovery plan still not delivered to the EU Commission, the political system has not managed to free itself from the swamp of mutual vetoes. ... But it is also a moment of hope. Because if the same parties now show themselves capable of sharing the sense of national urgency expressed by the head of state and support the institutional government, they could use Mario Draghi as an opportunity to help rescue the country from the pandemic and become protagonists of reconstruction.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Still very little room for manoeuvre

It won't be easy for Draghi to overcome the political deadlock either, Gazeta Wyborcza fears:

“The result will likely be a technocratic government led by Draghi. Renzi is not making any secret of the fact that such a solution would suit him just fine. In addition to the support of Italia Viva Draghi can also rely on that of the Partito Democratico and the opposition under Silvio Berlusconi. But to secure a majority in parliament he must convince either the Matteo Salvini's Lega or the Five Star movement to play along. Both will be difficult. Giorgia Meloni, head of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia, has already ruled out any collaboration.”