Commentary: Draghi resigns in Italy at the worst possible time | Comments from DW Reviewers and Guest Writers | DW

In one Mario Draghi for sure no one can blame – he was no worse than all his predecessors, when it comes to tenure as prime minister of Italy. 18 months at the head of government is more than the average time spent in this position by the leaders of 67 Italian governments since the end of World War II.

Draghi had no political reason to leave

Italy is accustomed to governmental crises and constant changes of power. For external observers, this, of course, does not make the country stable, but it seems interesting from a political point of view. At home, voters are enjoying a spectacle that mixes admiration and condemnation. This resignationlike many before her, is again like a soap opera: drama, envy, jealousy.

Bernd Riegert

Bernd Riegert

There was a bit of all this this time, but what was not there was a real political reason. It was about the neurotic fear of being underestimated and the desire to stand out, which are characteristic of the left-wing populist Giuseppe Conte of the Five Star Movement, who torpedoed the grand coalition of “national unity” in power.

Now the right-wing populists are rubbing their hands, because in the event of early elections they have a chance to appoint their own prime minister – George Milone. The right-wing radical party “Brothers of Italy” headed by her leads in the polls. Will Milone form a right-wing coalition with Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini, and whether this government will be more stable than all the previous ones is not yet clear. But, perhaps, the Social Democrats, now represented by two parties, will be able to form a “left” majority as a result of the election race.

Non-partisan Mario Draghi, who, after the collapse of the left-wing populist government led by the “5 Star Movement” how a technocrat led the government “national unity”, in fact, he did everything right. He brought Italy out of the crisis associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Guaranteed the heavily indebted country unprecedented EU subsidies and loans to restore the economy. Under him, Italy gained more weight in the EU than under his Eurosceptic predecessors. As a former head of the ECB, he has the necessary experience and economic knowledge, but, unfortunately, this did not help him prevent a dramatic increase in the inflation rate.

Draghi’s resignation is bad for both Italy and the EU

The fact that the obviously tired Draghi is leaving, – bad for Italy and for the whole EU. During the impending recession, energy crisis, monstrous confrontation with Russiaassociated with its war against Ukraine, a strong Italy is very much needed. A country that again for months will deal with its petty internal political problems with a completely split party system will weaken the EU.

If, finally, decades later, the reforms launched by Draghi are slowed down again, this could have a bad effect on both the economy and society. Markets are already reacting to his resignation with share prices falling, pressure on already weakened Italian banks, and rising interest rateincluding government bonds.

It will be difficult for the next government, and especially if it is led by right-wing populists who “understand Putin”, to lead heavily indebted Italy through the turbulent times ahead. If Italy goes bankrupt, the euro will be under pressure and the EU will stagger. Italy is too big and too important a country to fail.

Mario Draghi, at the beginning of his tenure as prime minister, was seen as the last chance to get Italy back on its feet. Was this chance missed? In any case, the next parliamentary elections should have been held early next year. And at the latest, the non-partisan technocrat Draghi should have retired by then. The drama in the political schedule has only been postponed for half a year, however, right in the midst of numerous crises associated with rising inflation and the consequences of the war.

Posted by Bernd Riegert, columnist for DW

The comment expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editors and Deutsche Welle in general.

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