Mario Draghi, from “savior” of the euro to victim of Italy


Crowned with his reputation as the savior of the euro zone in 2012, Mario Draghi was unable to save the Italian government, where he arrived prompted by Italy’s prime minister in February 2021 to bring the country out of the doldrums. But he threw in the towel on Thursday, tired of bickering within a difficult ruling coalition.

The political crisis, which had been brewing for months in Rome against the backdrop of the struggles of the unclassifiable 5-Star Movement (M5S), defeated a motley coalition in disarray as the elections scheduled for 2023 approach.

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A last attempt to rally his troops failed on Wednesday. We need “a new, sincere and concrete confidence pact,” the former president of the European Central Bank (ECB) asked the deputies, in vain, while he imposed his conditions. The answer was negative: three of Mario Draghi’s partners turned their backs on him. The first stab at the Executive was already given last Thursday by the M5E, author of the political crisis by withdrawing from the vote on a decree of measures against inflation that was subject to a vote of confidence, a usual procedure in Italy to speed up the procedures. But the final blow was the work of Matteo Salvini’s League and Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi’s party.

With graying hair, a sober suit and tie, and an aquiline profile, this discreet man with little fondness for worldliness has never made himself available for the votes of his compatriots. Draghi (Rome, 1947) was called to govern by the head of state, Sergio Mattarella, after the fall of Giuseppe Conte, leader of the M5E, in February 2021, at a critical moment, when the Recovery Plan for the pandemic to obtain the millionaire European funds.

Draghi was called to govern at a critical moment, when the EU Recovery Plan was to be presented

The economist, one of the most praised Italians both inside and outside the country and a respected figure for placing himself above the parties, proved to be a formidable choice who knew how to lead the country at the head of a coalition that walked on a line of Executives that brought together to antagonistic parties, from extreme right to left. However, there was no lack of friction with the majority formations, whether it was the M5S or the far-right League of Matteo Salvini, and the rope ended up giving way.

Seeing himself as a “grandfather at the service of the institutions”, he had already shown the first signs of fatigue last December when he aspired to the position of head of state. His coalition parties blocked him, an experience that filled him with bitterness.

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However, his motto was “never give up”, as he had confided to the press shortly before handing over Christine Lagarde to the head of the ECB in October 2019, at the end of a turbulent mandate. For Benoît Coeuré, former member of the Executive Committee of the ECB, Mario Draghi “has a deep sense of public service and duty”.

But today he will jump ship at a time when Italy is dealing with the impact of the war in Ukraine, faces a new wave of Covid and must prepare the 2023 budget and put in place all the measures required by Brussels to benefit from approximately 200 one billion euros granted to Rome in the framework of the recovery funds of the European Union.

Has a deep sense of public service and duty

Benoit CoeuréFormer member of the Executive Committee of the ECB

Under his leadership, from 2011 to 2019, the ECB took measures still unimaginable at the beginning of the euro 20 years ago: lowering rates to negative territory, liquidity injections via massive purchases of assets in the markets and gigantic loans to banks.

Faced with the threat of implosion of the monetary block, the also known as “Super Mario” said he was “ready for anything” in order to support the euro zone. These magic words immediately reassured the markets and saved the single currency in general opinion. This episode gave him great international prestige.

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The arrival in power of a man of his stature has put Italy back in the first European circle, calm to be able to count on him when Angela Merkel retired. The very conservative British weekly The Economist he praised “an internationally respected and competent prime minister”.

Married and father of two children, Mario Draghi, educated with the Jesuits and greatly appreciated by Pope Francis, has a doctorate in economics from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

After representing his country at the World Bank from 1984 to 1990, in 1991 he became Director General of the Italian Treasury, where he was the man-orchestra of the main privatizations carried out between 1996 and 2001. In 2002, he joined the management of the US bank Goldman Sachs. An experience that still earned him criticism today, because the richest investment bank in New York, which was one of the causes of the global financial crisis unleashed in 2008, symbolizes the excesses of Wall Street.

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