Italy's president calls on Mario Draghi in bid to form new government

Mario Draghi set to be asked to form new coalition as Mattarella says Italy needs a "high-profile government."

Italy's president has summoned former European Central Bank head Mario Draghi for a meeting at midday today, 3 February, after efforts failed to salvage the collapsed coalition of premier Giuseppe Conte.

President Sergio Mattarella is expected to task Draghi with forming a government following the resignation of Conte on 26 January and the subsequent failure by party leaders to agree on a new coalition.

Italy was plunged into political crisis last month after former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his small Italia Viva (IV) party from the country’s ruling coalition, leaving Conte without a parliamentary majority.

Mattarella said last night that it was his “duty to appeal to all the political forces in parliament to give their confidence to a high-profile government able to deal promptly with the serious emergencies in progress.”

The president is against calling early elections and says that Italy “requires a government that is fully functional" to deal with the challenges presented by covid-19. He also underlined the health risks of holding polls in the midst of a pandemic.

Former ECB chief Mario Draghi

The move is likely to end the political career of Conte, one of Italy's most popular politicians, who is not a member of any political party but led an alliance of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) and the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S).

Renzi's IV party and the PD have pledged support for Draghi who is widely credited with saving the euro zone from the brink of collapse in 2012, famously pledging to do “whatever it takes” to save the single European currency.

However the M5S is against a government led by the 73-year-old economist, while it remains to be seen how the right-wing opposition bloc will react.

It looks likely that the centre-right Forza Italia could support Draghi while the far-right Fratelli d'Italia and Lega parties favour elections.

There was no immediate comment from Draghi ahead of today's meeting at the presidential palace in Rome.

Photo Reuters