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Mario Draghi, Former EU Central Bank Head, Sworn In As Italy's Prime Minister

New Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi presides over a meeting of his first cabinet in Rome Saturday.
New Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi presides over a meeting of his first cabinet in Rome Saturday.

Mario Draghi, the celebrated economist who is credited with saving the euro, was sworn in as Italy's new prime minister Saturday. He will be tasked with guiding the country through the twin crises of the coronavirus and a crumbling economy.

Draghi, who formerly served as the head of the European Central Bank, took the oath of office with support from across the political spectrum with all but one of Italy's major parties backing him. Twenty-three members of Draghi's cabinet, which included technocrats and a broad swath of politicians, also took the oath of office Saturday.

In addition to charting Italy's course through the pandemic, Draghi is tasked with spending a roughly $240 billion, once-in-a-generation recovery fund provided by the EU to resuscitate an economy bound toward recession. Italy's economy is in its worst downturn since World War II, according to Reuters.

A boost for the Italian economy could benefit the whole eurozone.

"Your experience will be an exceptional asset for Italy and Europe as a whole, especially in these difficult times," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

Draghi must also lead Italy through the pandemic as the country reports one of the top infection rates on the continent and amid a stalled vaccine rollout, which has affected most of Europe. But Draghi begins leading Italy's 67th government since World War II with broad political backing, including from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is the largest group in the country's parliament.

In selecting his cabinet, Draghi selected four members of the Five Star Movement. Eight cabinet positions went to technocrats, as Reuters reports, with the remainder going to parties ranging from center left to far-right populist.

As BBC analysis points out, Italy's political landscape is notoriously divided and unstable. Draghi is the country's seventh prime minister in the past decade.

Draghi's predecessor, Giuseppe Conte, resigned only weeks ago after infighting among political groups over his handling of the pandemic.

Draghi faces parliamentary votes of confidence next week, and with only one major party not included in his cabinet — the far-right Brothers of Italy — he's expected to net the biggest majority in Italian history. According to Reuters, however, some members of the Five Star Movement have said they might vote against Draghi, creating internal divisions.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.