Italian PM Draghi pledges major reforms, presses on unity ahead of Senate vote
ROME (ITALY) – Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday vowed to bring sweeping reforms so as to rebuild Italy hit by the coronavirus pandemic. He was seen clearly setting out his priorities before a mandatory confidence vote in his government.
Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, assumed office at the weekend at the helm of a cabinet, with the support of parties from across the political spectrum.
Draghi said in his maiden speech to parliament, “Our main duty … is to fight the pandemic by all means and to safeguard the lives of our fellow citizens. Today, unity is not an option, unity is a duty.”
Draghi said his government is hopeful of a series of reforms aimed at inducing long-term growth in the eurozone’s third largest economy, which is entangled in its worst recession since World War Two.
His immediate priorities will be having a smooth vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in place and rehashing plans as to how to spend more than 200 billion euros ($240 billion) of European Union funds to rebuild the economy.
Draghi signalled that he wants to make a few changes to the public administration, which is hampered by red tape, and the justice system, one of the slowest in Europe.
Draghi, who received a standing ovation from Senators after his 50-minute address, said, “Today we have, as did the governments of the immediate post-war period, the possibility, or rather the responsibility, to launch a new reconstruction.”
However, Draghi has a daunting road ahead of him, with many sectors of the economy brought to a screeching halt and some companies only surviving because of state handouts. Draghi said he could not protect every job or business adding: “Some will have to change, even radically.”
He might also have to struggle to keep his disparate coalition together, which includes political foes with differing views on issues such as immigration and welfare.
With a vast parliamentary majority on paper, Draghi is optimistic about Wednesday’s confidence vote in the Senate and a similar vote in the lower house on Thursday.
The confidence vote in the Senate is likely to start at 11 pm (2200 GMT) on Wednesday.