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Whatever It Takes in Italy?

With deft and bold action, Mario Draghi's unity government in Italy can go some way toward addressing the COVID-19 emergency, laying the groundwork for long-term economic recovery, and restoring Italians' confidence in their political leaders. But he cannot do it alone.

BOLOGNA – In 2012, then-European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pulled Europe from the depths of economic crisis with his famous promise to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. Now, Draghi’s native Italy is hoping he can save it, too, by leading a new unity government. But even for “super Mario,” success is far from guaranteed.

Draghi’s skill, competency, and credibility are not in question. And he will surely choose a highly qualified cabinet. But the challenge ahead should not be underestimated. Not only has Italy’s long-running economic crisis been compounded by the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic; the country has been mired in a paralyzing political crisis.

If Draghi is to address the COVID-19 emergency effectively, let alone fortify Italy’s economic foundations, he will first have to find a way to navigate the country’s intricate politics. That means, for starters, securing the full support of the anti-establishment Five Star movement (M5S).

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