Italian lawmakers ratify new gov’t led by Draghi

Rome, Feb 18 (efe-epa).- The lower house of Italy’s parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday to ratify former European Central Bank (ECB) head Mario Draghi as prime minister amid the dual challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the worst economic slump since World War II.

A day after getting the nod from the Senate, the 73-year-old economist and his Cabinet of party politicians and technocrats won the confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies by a margin of 535-56 with five abstentions.

As was the case in the Senate, most of the “no” votes in the Chamber came from the far-right Brothers of Italy, the only parliamentary party not represented in the new government.

Yet 12 deputies from the reformist Five-Star Movement (M5S), which is part of the Draghi-led coalition, also voted against ratifying the government, while four others abstained and a dozen did not participate.

Roughly 60 percent of M5S members supported Draghi in an internal plebiscite and the party leadership said Thursday that the 15 senators and 32 deputies who declined to vote “yes” would be expelled for ignoring the wishes of the membership.

One of the new premier’s first official acts will be to take part in Friday’s virtual summit of leaders of the G7 nations.

In relatively brief comments between the debate and the vote in the Chamber of Deputies, Draghi talked about the need to tackle graft and organized crime.

Corruption and the danger of “criminal interference” have a negative effect on free competition at home and on Italy’s ability to compete in the global economy, he said.

Along the same lines, Draghi pointed to the need to bring Italian judicial procedures up to those of other European Union nations in terms of efficiency and timeliness and said that Justice Minister Marta Cartabia, the first woman to preside over the Constitutional Tribunal, will make achieving such reforms a priority.

The new government, he said, will keep its gaze fixed firmly on the future as it works to inspire a “common effort to overcome the health emergency and the economic crisis.”

Coronavirus has claimed more than 94,000 lives in Italy and the number of confirmed cases stands at 2.75 million, while the country’s economy shrank nearly 10 percent in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

During a videoconference with Italian lawmakers ahead of Thursday’s confidence vote, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said that he was “absolutely convinced” the Draghi government would take the steps necessary to expedite the release to Italy of 209 billion euros ($252.7 billion) in aid from the EU’s pandemic recovery fund.

Draghi, who was acclaimed as the savior of the euro for his handling of successive financial crises as ECB chief from 2011-2019, tapped several high-profile outsiders for his government, including Italian central bank director Daniele Franco, named as economy minister.

Vittorio Colao, ex-CEO of telecommunications company Vodafone, is minister of Innovation and Digital Transition, while physicist Roberto Cingolani, a former executive with Leonardo SpA, the world’s eighth-largest military contractor, holds the newly created post of Ecological Transition minister. EFE


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