Ghe only needed ten days to assemble his government team. On Wednesday a week ago, the 73-year-old economist was commissioned by President Sergio Mattarella to form a government “of high profile”. The 67th Italian government since the founding of the Republic in 1946 was sworn in in the Quirinal Palace on Saturday afternoon.
Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta, based in Rome.
It was an unadorned ceremony in a sumptuous atmosphere. The 23 ministers, wearing FFP2 masks over their mouths and noses, sat on chairs at the required hygienic distance from each other before they were called on individually to sign their certificates of appointment. Draghi was the first to take the oath, perhaps not by accident four minutes to twelve o’clock. Cabinet members followed.
No handshake, but a “family photo”
The president’s usual handshake was omitted. The Draghi cabinet is the first to take up its work under the conditions of the pandemic, instead of being able to or having to grow into this task first. After all, after the ceremony and in another room there was still the traditional “family photo” of the assembled ministers with their new boss – without any distance and without a mask.
Before Draghi’s sprint to his “mixed government” of experts and politicians, his hapless predecessor Giuseppe Conte had struggled for three weeks to renew, expand or otherwise save his overthrown left-wing coalition. As noisy and tenacious as Conte’s failure had been, Draghi’s negotiations went smoothly.
The former President of the European Central Bank held the book tightly in hand from the beginning, leaving the audience in the dark about his personnel plans. Between the closely timed rounds of talks with the parties, social partners and interest groups, he made only skimpy statements. The re was no breach of the cabinet list, at most a few correct and many false assumptions, before Draghi presented his government team to the president on Friday evening, again in the Quirinal Palace, and then read them out publicly.
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Mattarella accepted the list of ministers without reservation and set the swearing-in of the new cabinet for the following day. The votes of confidence in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, which are required by the constitution within ten days, are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
Draghi’s cabinet marks continuity with the government team of his predecessor on the one hand, but above all a break – and probably also a leap in quality. The non-party economics professor Draghi took over eight ministers from the non-party law professor Conte. The most important “survivors” are Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio from the left-wing populist five-star movement and the non-party top official Luciana Lamorgese in the inner resort. Health Minister Roberto Speranza from the small left party “Free and Equals” will also retain his post, as will Culture Minister Dario Franceschini and Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini, both from the Social Democrats.
15 men, 8 women
Like the old one, the new cabinet comprises 23 ministerial posts, with some realignments and shifts between the departments. Fifteen ministers belong to half a dozen governing parties – from the right to the center to the left – and eight are non-party experts. The left-wing populist five-star movement, the strongest political force in both chambers, has four cabinet posts. The Social Democrats each represent three ministers, Silvio Berlusconi’s liberal-conservative Forza Italia and the right-wing nationalist Lega of the former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, which, together with the liberal economist Giancarlo Giorgetti, occupies the key department for economic development. The left small parties “Free and Equals” and Italia Viva of the former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi each have one position. The ratio of men and women is also 15 to eight, which has been described as disappointing by some who had hoped for an equal gender distribution.
The political and programmatic orientation of the Draghi cabinet can be seen in the professionals appointed – and this is also the striking break with the previous government. The new Justice Minister is the former President of the Constitutional Court Marta Cartabia, who has to push ahead with the overdue judicial reform. Daniele Franco, deputy governor of the central bank, will be finance minister.
“Was it worth it for that?”
The managers Vittorio Colao as minister for innovation and digitization, Roberto Cingolani for the environment and ecological change and the economist Enrico Giovannini for transport and infrastructure hold key positions in the Draghi cabinet as further experts without party affiliation. It is these departments, occupied by successful entrepreneurs and financial administrators, that will largely decide on the use of the good 209 billion euros from the EU’s “reconstruction fund”.
Lega boss Salvini and Forza Italia chairman Berlusconi were very satisfied with Draghi’s cabinet and wished the new government every success. The head of the Social Democrats, Nicola Zingaretti, assured that the government would be supported “with loyalty and conviction”. Renzi spoke of a “high quality” cabinet, although his party now has one cabinet position instead of three. The informal spokesman for the left wing of the Five Stars, Alessandro Di Battista, who had spoken out against participation in the Draghi government and therefore wants to leave the movement, was disappointed. “Was it worth it?” He asked on Twitter.