The former head of the European Central Bank has impressive credentials, but his reign as prime minister should be of limited duration

When contemplating wily high-altitude manoeuvres in Italian politics, it is customary to pull a copy of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard from the shelves. In his great novel of the 19th-century Risorgimento, one of Lampedusa’s characters observes that “everything must change so that everything can stay the same”. At one level, the prospective appointment of the former head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, as Italy’s new prime minister, comes straight from the pragmatic Lampedusa playbook.

Mr Draghi has been personally recruited as a safe pair of hands by the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, following the shambolic and untimely collapse of the country’s centre-left coalition government. A destabilising election in the middle of the Covid pandemic would have spooked both the markets and European allies, who recently committed to offering Italy around £185bn from the flagship EU recovery fund. The likelihood that such a poll would be won by parties on the Eurosceptic hard right made the prospect of a snap election doubly unattractive. So Mr Mattarella has bypassed the voters and asked one of Europe’s most respected economists and bankers to take the reins.

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