MILAN – Italian Premier-designate Mario Draghi on Saturday secured preliminary support from two key parties for forming a new government that will decide how to spend more than 200 billion euros ($240 billion) in European Union funds to help relaunch Italy's pandemic-ravaged economy.
The populist 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League both signaled support for a Draghi-led government, saying they were ready to put aside bitter rivalries for the good of the country and increasing the potential for a broad-based government of national unity.
Draghi, 73, the former president of the European Central Bank completed a first round of talks with political parties this week. Another round is expected early next week on potential Cabinet ministers and a synthesis from Draghi of his vision for the new government. He also is expected to meet with unions, business lobbies and other members of civil society.
Italy's president tapped Draghi this week to form a government after the resignation of ex-Premier Giuseppe Conte, who lost support of a small but key coalition party. Before Saturday, Draghi already lined up the support of the Democratic Party, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, former Premier Matteo Renzi’s Italy Live, and the small Free and Equal party.
After their meetings with Draghi, both 5-Star Movement leader Vito Crimi and League leader Matteo Salvini spoke about acting in the interest of Italy, the first Western nation to be struck hard by the coronavirus. With the economic fallout of the pandemic still being tallied, both acknowledged they would have to put aside political rivalries and betrayals in order to do so.
“We won’t forget the acts committed by some political forces, who are present in our memories and in our political committees,” Crimi said, in what appeared to be a reference to Renzi yanking Italy Alive's support from Conte's governing coalition and triggering its collapse.
Likewise, Salvini, a former interior minister in Conte's first government, noted that he would be sitting alongside politicians who voted to lift his parliamentary immunity so he could be put on trial in Sicily for not allowing migrant rescue ships disembark in Italy when he was minister.
“We are ready to overcome everything in the interest of the country,” Crimi said of the 5-Star Movement, which was the top vote-getter in the last parliamentary election in 2018 and a key element of both Conte governments, the first with the right-wing League and the second with the left-wing Democratic Party.