The delicate game of political goldsmithing to find the successor of Sergio Mattarella at the head of the presidency of the Italian republic, which is staged in Parliament and in the halls of power, has already begun, despite the fact that it is a long process and the votes Officials don’t open until mid-January. For now, there is no firm name on the table, but that of the current Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, 74, has been strong for a long time. Italy is in the midst of reforms to ensure the smooth running of investments with European funds and there is still a year left in the legislature, which complicates the battle. But this Wednesday, the former president of the European Central Bank, in charge of the Italian Executive since February, has opened the door for the first time to run as a candidate for head of state. “My personal destiny does not count. I have no particular aspirations of any kind. I am a man, if you want, a grandfather at the service of the institutions ”, he has slipped, implying that he is available to become the next tenant of the Quirinal Palace, seat of the Presidency of the Republic.
“The responsibility for the decision is completely in the hands of the political forces,” added Draghi in the traditional press conference at the end of the year, in which he took stock and answered questions for about two and a half hours. of journalists. Draghi has referred to the issue on occasions with a jocular tone, he has even laughed when asked if he would remain in the Government until 2023 and has avoided exposing himself too much, but has cleared the question.
And he has made it clear that the Executive he directs has fulfilled a good part of his assignments, has created the necessary conditions to effectively use the funds of the recovery plan, has ensured economic growth, has achieved good results in the fight against pandemic and could go on without it. “The government can advance regardless of who is in charge. It is Parliament that decides ”, Draghi pointed out. It has also specified that the Executive in this time has fulfilled the 51 objectives of the national recovery plan that had been set for this year and that it had negotiated with the European Commission.
From his words it follows that someone could take his position, supported by the same heterogeneous majority that now supports him. The Quirinal game, which is played every seven years, is always complicated and has unpredictable consequences, but Draghi, the most popular head of Government in Italy in decades, is one of the few who could be voted by the entire Parliament to be the next president.
Until not long ago, the hypothetical ascent of Draghi to the Quirinal Hill was considered difficult and it was thought that it would alter the political balance, it would mean the end of the current parliamentary majority and it would lead the country to snap elections. But with the Prime Minister’s statements this theory loses force.
Under his leadership, the Italian Government has adopted in record time several reforms long requested by the European Commission. The last one, approved in November, limits obstacles to competition, simplifies the rules of public tenders and fights monopolies. This competition reform is in addition to the recent reform of the Italian justice system, considered one of the least effective in Europe, to streamline lengthy procedures and ease the burden on the courts. In addition, in October, the Government also adopted a reform aimed at regularizing the properties that were never declared in the property registry, known as “ghost houses”, estimated at more than one million.
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The Italian presidency has limited powers and its interventions are largely ceremonial, but the President of the Republic, as Mattarella has shown in recent years, can play a key role in resolving government crises or the usual dead ends. exit from Italian politics. Having a prominent and internationally respected figure like Draghi would send a signal of stability and credibility.
At the press conference, Draghi also announced that the Government will study this Thursday the possible introduction of new sanitary restrictions due to the omicron variant and the increase in infections, such as the use of outdoor masks, possible tests to participate in some activities or the reduction of the validity time of the covid passport. The prime minister also affirmed that he does not rule out extending the mandatory vaccination, currently contemplated for teachers, doctors and law enforcement officials, although the Executive is not expected to address it at this meeting.
Draghi has also addressed the migration issue, “an issue that is once again at the center of the European agenda.” “Beyond the distribution of immigrants, which is a problem that can be overcome, the reception system must be completely changed,” said the Italian Prime Minister. And he added: “We are at a time when European industry has a great need for labor, on this there is a lot of openness in some countries.”
Most parties ask that the legislature be exhausted
The political parties have welcomed Draghi’s opening to the presidency of the Republic with some unease, aware that the departure of the prime minister could open a political mess in which the options would go through commissioning another consensus figure to exhaust the legislature or call for elections.
In general, for almost everyone unfavorable winds are blowing in the polls. Except for the far-right Brothers of Italy, the only formation that is outside the government coalition and that currently has a 5% representation in Parliament and in the polls it flies to around 20%, which would make it the second force politics of the country. Its leader, Giorgia Meloni, has taken the opportunity to attack the prime minister. “More than a year-end conference, it felt like an end-of-term conference. Two and a half hours of self-celebration, he says he has reached the objectives but we have no evidence of it. He has not admitted his mistakes in managing the pandemic, “he said.
The 5 Star Movement, the formation with the largest presence in Parliament today, has praised Draghi’s desire for the legislature to continue with or without him and does not want to hear or talk about an electoral advance, due to the dire results estimated by the polls. The Democratic Party maintains a similar position and is inclined to continue the legislature. Another partner of the Government, the far-right League of Matteo Salvini has changed its opinion for the umpteenth time and has indicated that it is “concerned” about “possible changes that could generate instability.” Until recently Salvini was Draghi’s biggest supporter for the post of President of the Republic. Accustomed to twists, sometimes difficult to understand, Salvini is aware that early elections would put his leadership on the right at stake, given the advance of Giorgia Meloni.
Forza Italia, by Silvio Berlusconi, thanked Draghi for his work and sponsored his “continuity” in his current position. On the other hand, it is an open secret that Berlusconi aspires to the presidency of the Republic and it would not be convenient for him to face a rival of the stature of the current prime minister.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.