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Draghi vows major reforms to help rebuild Italy

Draghi addresses the senate ahead of confidence vote.

Italy's new prime minister Mario Draghi pledged reforms designed to boost long-term growth, in addition to tackling the covid-19 pandemic, in his inaugural speech to parliament.

Addressing the senate on the morning of 17 February, ahead of a mandatory vote of confidence in his government of national unity, Draghi outlined his executive's priorities during a speech that was interrupted repeatedly with applause.

“Unity is not an option, unity is a duty" - Draghi said - "But it is a duty guided by what I am sure unites us all: love for Italy."

Draghi said his main priority was to "fight the pandemic by all means and to safeguard the lives of our fellow citizens, " underlining that Italy would have to rebuild after the pandemic as it did after world war two.

"Today we have, as did the governments of the immediate post-war period, the possibility, or rather the responsibility, to start a new reconstruction," he said.

The reforms outlined by the former head of the European Central Bank, who was installed as premier on Saturday, include plans to overhaul Italy's public administration and its justice system, reports Reuters.

Draghi also said a priority would be dealing with "those who are suffering now, with those people who today are losing their jobs or are forced to close their businesses," reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The immediate priorities facing Draghi and his coalition however will be deciding how to spend around €200 billion of EU recovery funds and overseeing Italy's coronavirus vaccination programme.

Due to its huge parliamentary majority, the government is expected to breeze through a confidence vote in the upper house today and the lower house tomorrow.

Last weekend's swearing in of the veteran economist came after he formally accepted President Mattarella's mandate to be Italy's new premier and put together a government following the collapse of the coalition led by Giuseppe Conte.

Draghi's cabinet comprises members of all but one of Italy's main parties - the right-wing Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) - and covers a wide political spectrum, from right to left.

The executive features four politicians from the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), three each from the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI) and Matteo Salvini's right-wing Lega, and one each from Matteo Renzi's centrist Italia Viva (IV) and the left-wing LeU group.

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