RTL Today – Unstable political system: Mario Draghi, the savior of the euro zone shot down by Italy’s grumpy parties


Mario Draghi, credited with helping save the euro zone as head of the European Central Bank, presided over a remarkable period of unity as Italy’s prime minister before falling foul of his notoriously unstable political system.

The star economist was never directly elected but won support from nearly all political parties when he took office in February 2021 and raised Italy’s profile internationally as a respected leader of the European Union and the G7.

It has been tasked with tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the aftermath of a recession in Europe’s third-largest economy, just as Italy received much of an unprecedented EU recovery package worth billions of euros to stimulate growth.

Rejecting Italy’s long-standing ties with Moscow, he strongly opposed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and played a key role in the EU supporting Kyiv’s bid for membership. block membership.

Enjoying growing personal popularity and the confidence of Brussels and the financial markets, Draghi was seen as the best choice to revive a stagnant economy, plagued by structural inefficiencies and punitive bureaucracy, by ushering in structural reforms long delayed by infighting and inertia.

But with elections slated for next year, parties in his coalition have grown increasingly restive and Draghi’s stern warnings to stop playing politics have gone unheeded.

Three parties in his coalition refused Wednesday to take part in a vote of confidence, unplugging the government.

Draghi tendered his resignation to Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday morning.

– Basketball and banking –

Born in Rome on September 3, 1947 to a wealthy family, Draghi lost both parents in his mid-teens, leaving him to care for two younger siblings.

As a young man, he was never a rebel, although he sympathized with the 1968 protest movement. “My hair was quite long, but not very long,” he told German magazine Die Zeit in 2015.

Draghi was educated at an elite Jesuit-run high school where he excelled in math, Latin and basketball, and shared lessons with former Ferrari boss Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.

Draghi, married with two children, remains a practicing Catholic.

In 1970, Draghi graduated in economics, with a thesis that the single currency “was madness, something that absolutely should not be done” – a view that later evolved, as he became one of the strongest supporters of the euro.

He obtained a doctorate from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States and taught economics at several Italian universities.

After spending six years at the World Bank from 1984 to 1990, he led the Treasury Department of Italy’s Ministry of Economy for a decade, working under nine separate governments.

From this position, Draghi orchestrated large-scale privatizations and contributed to the deficit reduction efforts that helped Italy qualify for the euro.

– No “lame compromise” –

In 2002, Draghi joined the management of Goldman Sachs, before being asked three years later to lead the Bank of Italy after a scandal involving his former boss, Antonio Fazio.

He was appointed head of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November 2011 when a situation of near bankruptcy in Italy threatened to trigger the collapse of the entire euro zone.

A year later, Draghi changed the story by pledging to do “whatever it takes to preserve the euro”, adding: “And believe me, that will be enough”.

He has been credited with helping to save the single currency. However, that bailout only came with the help of large cash injections and historically low interest rates, earning him the ire of conservatives, particularly in Germany.

People who saw ‘Super Mario’ in action at the ECB say he was a shrewd negotiator with sharp political antennae, and willing to play ‘bad cop’ to swing decisions in his favour, said to AFP a former collaborator.

Draghi is someone who does not accept “lame compromises” in the interest of maintaining consensus, the aide said.

After leaving the ECB in 2019, Draghi kept a low profile and spent most of Italy’s coronavirus lockdown at his country home in central Umbria.

He was called upon to lead Italy by President Sergio Mattarella, after Giuseppe Conte’s previous government collapsed in infighting in January 2021.

He had been tipped to succeed Mattarella in presidential elections to parliament earlier this year, but in the end Mattarella was recalled for a second term after lawmakers failed to agree on someone. other.

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