Mario draghi

Can anyone beat Berlusconi to the Italian presidency?

Silvio ‘Bunga Bunga’ Berlusconi was a populist before the word became all the rage. An almost comically divisive figure, he makes spectacular off-the-cuff remarks which thrill his supporters and leave his enemies apoplectic. He called Barack Obama ‘tanned’. He advised a teenage girl that her best bet in life was to ‘marry a rich man’, and once said it is ‘better to stare at pretty girls than be gay’. In an interview with Boris Johnson and me in The Spectator in 2003, he insisted that the fascist dictator Mussolini did not kill his opponents, merely ‘sent them on holiday to the islands’. I wonder if Boris remembers that now. Still,

Italian politics is fracturing

Just in time for the football final, Italy’s Five Star party reached a deal. Giuseppe Conte, a former prime minister, has agreed to take on the leadership of the party, but only on condition that he will be fully in charge of the politics of the movement and of the parliamentary party. Beppe Grillo, the party’s founder, agreed to those conditions, which reduces his hold. This compromise may not last. Many details have yet to be agreed. But Conte is in a strong position because the majority of parliamentarians and voters are behind him — a powerful combination. The compromise is potentially bad news for Mario Draghi because Conte and the

Can Italy’s arch Eurocrat save his country?

The world these days is so blasè about the destruction of democracy that no one even thinks it worthy of comment that an important free country such as Italy has not had an elected prime minister since the last one, Silvio Berlusconi, was forced to resign in 2011 during the Eurozone crisis after a palace coup orchestrated by Brussels, Berlin and Paris. That is ten years without a prime minister chosen by the Italian people at the ballot box in a general election. The electoral system, currently a hybrid of first past the post and proportional representation, is partly to blame. But the real reason is the Italians. They seem

Can ‘super’ Mario Draghi save Italy from itself?

In the aftermath of the financial crash, two ‘Super Marios’ came to Italy’s rescue. Mario Draghi, then president of the European Central Bank, and Mario Monti, an economics don turned politician, both helped steady the ship. Now, more than a decade on, one of those Marios is back. But is he the man Italy needs in its hour of need? Draghi, who is set to become Italy’s new prime minister, has followed a well-trodden path to this moment. Like Monti, he has worked in academia and is a Goldman Sachs alumnus with a stellar EU career on his back. It all sounds very familiar. But can Draghi avoid the fate of the other