Italy's Mario Draghi to be sworn in as prime minister

Mario Draghi formally accepts invitation to be Italy's PM

Members of Italy's 5-Star Movement voted on Thursday to back Prime Minister designate Mario Draghi, opening the way for the former European Central Bank chief to take office at the head of a broad government of national unity.

It would then face confidence votes in parliament.

Nearly all the main parties are behind him, from leftists to Matteo Salvini's far-right League, and including the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and Italia Viva, who shared power before.

Mr Draghi, 73, replaces Giuseppe Conte, who resigned after a small party pulled support over the handling of the pandemic. Earlier this week, the far-right League also indicated that it would support the new government, which is also backed by the center-left Democratic Party and center-right Forza Italia, led by Berlusconi.

Former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi arrives for a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinale Palace, in Rome, on February 3, 2021.

Following a week of consultations, nearly all the main parties from across the political spectrum pledged their support to Draghi, and prominent figures from these groups were named as ministers.

Mario Draghi formally accepts invitation to be Italy's PM
Former European Central Bank boss Draghi set to be Italy's new PM

Known for his reserved demeanor, Draghi has kept out of sight during the political consultations and meetings with prospective Cabinet members.

However, some key posts went to non-affiliated technocrats, including Daniele Franco, director-general of the Bank of Italy, who was named as economy minister and Roberto Cingolani, a physicist and IT expert, who was handed the new role of minister for green transition. Italy has registered some 93,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February a year ago, the second-highest toll in Europe.

But in an online vote, members backed Draghi by 59 percent, after it claimed to have secured the promise to set up a new super-ministry for "ecological transition".

Another priority is speeding up Italy's coronavirus vaccination programme, which made a promising start in December but has since slowed, against a backdrop of rising concern about the spread of new variants.

The country is at a critical juncture as it battles both the medical and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which struck Italy first outside of Asia nearly exactly one year ago.

In one of the last acts of his government Friday, Conte's cabinet extended a ban on travelling between regions for another week, and tightened curbs in four regions. In mid-January, his coalition broke apart in a dispute about the best way to disburse European Union aid money to recover from the coronavirus crisis.



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