“Anyone but Draghi” – how an Italian presidential bid fell flat


ROME (Reuters) – Last weekend, for maybe the primary time in his gilded profession, Mario Draghi missed out on a promotion.

He was the bookmakers’ sizzling favorite to turn into president of Italy. He himself made clear he needed the distinguished put up, with its seven-yr time period and appreciable political clout.

But over every week of repeated ballots, the 74-yr-outdated premier by no means bought greater than 5 votes from the 1,009 parliamentarians and regional delegates who took half within the election.

Claudio Borghi, a deputy from the rightist League celebration, was concerned within the fraught negotiations to elect a brand new head of state, attempting to influence undecided lawmakers to again a candidate from his personal conservative camp.

“Some stated no, some stated they’d give it some thought, but the message I bought from most of them was that they’d take into account voting for anybody but Draghi,” Borghi instructed Reuters.

So what went mistaken for the previous European Central Bank chief who rode to Italy’s rescue a yr in the past, popping out of retirement to turn into prime minister after considered one of Rome’s frequent authorities collapses?

Interviews with greater than a dozen Italian parliamentarians reveal Draghi’s bid confronted excessive hurdles from the beginning, although these had been largely neglected by many commentators who seen him as a digital shoo-in for the coveted presidential position.

Foremost amongst these obstacles was the truth that if Draghi modified jobs, his authorities would have routinely fallen, doubtlessly triggering elections a yr forward of schedule which most lawmakers, terrified of dropping their seats and pension rights, had been anxious to keep away from.

Yet this was not the one drawback. The vote noticed tactical missteps by Draghi and confirmed his unpopularity amongst rank-and-file politicians, lots of whom really feel he has lower them out of the choice-making course of and ridden roughshod over parliament.

Draghi’s typically excessive-handed method has additionally gained him enemies within the cupboard, properly-positioned authorities sources say, that means only some members of his coalition group tried to battle his nook because the vote progressed https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/italian-events-disarray-presidential-vote-limps-2022-01-29.

Reuters conversations with greater than a dozen politicians of all stripes counsel Draghi is revered, but little cherished.

The prime minister’s workplace declined to touch upon why Draghi had not gained election.


Unaffiliated deputy Riccardo Magi stated parliamentarians had been frightened of snap elections. The prospect of Draghi switching roles was “a leap at nighttime” they weren’t ready to take.

Fausto Raciti, a deputy with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), stated his celebration feared an election would yield victory for Giorgia Meloni’s onerous-proper Brothers of Italy celebration, which is driving excessive within the polls.

“There was the mathematical certainty of early elections and Meloni premier. Nobody within the PD was prepared to run that danger,” Raciti stated.

In the eight rounds of balloting which ultimately topped outgoing President Sergio Mattarella for a second time period, Draghi mustered between two and 5 votes, underscoring his failure to construct robust ties inside the two homes of parliament.

Former schooling minister Lorenzo Fioramonti and Borghi each described Draghi’s bid as “naive”, saying he had underestimated the duty at hand.

“If you wish to be the ECB chief it’s important to negotiate with 5 or 10 folks. To be president of the republic it’s important to persuade 1,000 lawmakers. It’s a distinct ability,” Borghi stated.

Draghi, who carries uncommon clout on the worldwide stage, has a fame in authorities circles of being aloof. While he consults extensively, he takes choices alone, leaving some senior figures feeling lower out of the command chain.

The concept of letting such a strong determine take cost of the presidential palace for the following seven years additionally served as a deterrent in a rustic the place consensus politics predominates.

“In Italian historical past, the nation’s strongest politician has by no means been elected president as a result of the system of checks and balances has its personal logic,” stated Ettore Rosato, a number one mild within the centrist Italia Viva celebration.


Draghi made his presidential ambitions clear on Dec. 22 when he instructed reporters his authorities had largely accomplished its agenda. “The work can proceed no matter who’s there,” he stated.

Probably his main process when he took on the premiership was to handle Italy’s coronavirus response, so his suggestion his work was achieved, simply as a fourth wave of COVID-19 was accelerating quick, appeared to many to be inappropriate.

“This ambition was a bit destabilising,” stated former Prime Minister Mario Monti, famend for his diplomatic language.

“(It was) not the pure perspective of a major minister removed from the tip of his mandate and with powerful duties to finish,” Monti instructed La7 TV on Sunday.

Draghi’s workplace declined to touch upon Monti’s remarks.

Draghi’s transfer had additionally offended some lawmakers as a result of it broke with etiquette by which no-one is meant to hunt the presidency, but solely settle for it as an honour thrust upon them.

The disapproval grew when, nearly as quickly as voting began, Draghi reportedly started talks with celebration chiefs in what was extensively seen as an try to safe their help.

“The December information convention was unhealthy sufficient, but then receiving celebration leaders whereas we had been voting for the president of the republic appeared to us in parliament like a rupture of the foundations,” stated Sandro Ruotolo, senator with a small leftist group.

These talks had been confirmed to Reuters by two sources and had been extensively reported in Italy’s essential newspapers. Draghi’s workplace declined to remark.

In the occasion, the chief of just one main coalition celebration, the PD’s Enrico Letta, cautiously backed Draghi, whereas the three different essential authorities teams – the League, Forza Italia and 5-Star Movement – all publicly disavowed his candidacy.

“Draghi did not make it ultimately as a result of the leaders knew they could not management their very own lawmakers and did not wish to take an opportunity,” stated former minister Fioramonti, now a deputy with an ecologist group.

($1 = 0.8890 euros)

(Writing by Gavin Jones, further reporting by Giselda Vagnoni and Crispian Balmer, modifying by Angus MacSwan)

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