Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has been formally sworn in as Italy’s new prime minister on Saturday, against the backdrop of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and a crippling recession.
The appointment of the 73-year-old known as “Super Mario” capped weeks of political instability for the country still in the grips of the health crisis that has killed more than 93,000 people.
“I swear to be loyal to the Republic,” recited Draghi, as he stood before President Sergio Mattarella in the ornate presidential palace in a televised ceremony.
Members of his new cabinet, who include technocrats, veteran politicians and ministers held over from the previous government, each took the oath of office.
Draghi was parachuted in by Mattarella after the previous centre-left coalition under premier Giuseppe Conte collapsed, leading Italy rudderless amid the worst recession since World War II.
After assembling a broad-based coalition, on Friday night he formally accepted the post of premier, publicly revealing the new cabinet for the first time.
On Wednesday, Draghi will be presented to the Senate, the upper house of parliament, followed by the lower Chamber of Deputies on Thursday for a confidence vote that will give the final official blessing to his government.
Following the swearing-in, Conte greeted his successor in Chigi Palace, the prime minister’s office, during a short ceremony, receiving sustained applause from civil servants in the courtyard before departing in an official vehicle.
Conte’s final months in office were marked by political turmoil but the former law professor — who rose to power in 2018 with no prior political experience — represented for many Italians a comforting, steady hand during the darkest moments of the pandemic last year.