Salem Radio Network News Monday, March 8, 2021

World

Italy’s Draghi to meet president, looks set to form government

ROME (Reuters) – President Sergio Mattarella will receive Mario Draghi at 7 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday, his office said, in a sign that the former European Central Bank chief was ready to form a government and unveil his cabinet.

Mattarella gave Draghi a mandate to put together a new administration last week following the collapse of the previous coalition, setting him the task of tackling the coronavirus health crisis and economic meltdown.

Almost all the major parties have agreed to back Draghi, one of the most respected figures in Italy who carries significant clout on the international stage, giving him an overwhelming majority in parliament to push through his agenda.

His cabinet is expected to include a mix of politicians from the parties supporting him, and experienced technocrats.

They will likely be sworn in at the weekend, opening the way for debates in both houses of parliament, where Draghi will unveil his policy plans and face votes of confidence — a formality given his cross-party support.

Draghi received a boost on Thursday when the largest group in parliament, the 5-Star Movement, agreed to back the government, meaning it will have such a large majority that no single party will have the numbers to bring it down.

One of the reasons so many parties have joined forces in the ruling coalition is that they all want to have a say in how Italy spends more than 200 billion euros ($242.56 billion) it is set to receive from a European Union fund.

Draghi, 73, is widely credited with having saved the euro currency during his time in charge of the ECB and he will no doubt be influential now in shaping EU debate on how the bloc should engineer its economic revival.

Politicians he met this week said he told them he is opposed to fiscal austerity, despite soaring national debt levels, given the importance of protecting social cohesion.

He also reportedly promised to create a powerful ministry for ecological transition, a move that helped win over support from 5-Star for whom environmentalism is a core concern.

Policies to fight climate change are required to be a pillar of the Recovery Plans to be presented by EU countries to the European Commission by April.

Draghi has also said he will make the anti-coronavirus vaccine programme a priority. Italy has registered almost 93,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, editing by Gavin Jones)

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