The first 30 days of the Draghi Government

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Tomorrow it will be one month since the new government has sworn in front of the Head of State, Sergio Mattarella. Arriving at Palazzo Chigi on the wave of enormous expectations inside and outside Italy, the head of yet another republican executive, the 67th since 1948, could prove to be a real watershed in our national history.

This is not about the necessary victory over the virus one year after the first lockdown or a mere economic game, but rather the last chance to set out to relaunch the country by reviving a frazzled Italian Republic, starting with its institutions. What is at stake is about not losing sovereignty completely and jeopardise our very national cohesion.

This is a perception that is also beginning to spread among the general public and which explains the almost messianic sense of expectation generated by the latest change of guard at Palazzo Chigi. Hence the increase in confidence in the Prime Minister in recent weeks, which contrasts with the cautious way in which voters view the parties and their effective willingness to put aside rivalries in order to meet the country’s needs.

During his first thirty days in power, the former president of the ECB focused almost exclusively on two major priorities: the fight against the coronavirus and the management of European funds. While at the Ministry of Health, which is at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, the watchword was continuity with the previous government (a result welcomed by the yellow-red component of the coalition), the removal of Arcuri as extraordinary commissioner marks the decision to completely redefine the team reporting directly to the Prime Minister’s Office (as demanded by the centre-right forces).

More than just rewarding the majority shareholders, the vaccination campaign has to be launched by selecting people with skills that are very different from those of their predecessors. For example, army general Figliuolo, an expert in logistics, with a much more functional profile than Invitalia manager Arcuri for the centralised management of the immunisation plan. The anti-emergency task force is completed by the new head of civil protection, Fabrizio Curcio, who is returning to the role he already held in the past, and even the delegated authority for intelligence, Franco Gabrielli, former police chief.

After a year of fighting Covid, in which the main defence strategy was to close the country and then reopen it due to the curve of contagion, the Draghi government now needs to bring Italy into a new phase, marked by the prospect of a new start thanks to the advent of vaccines.

The strong discontinuity with the past also passes through the ambition to put hands on the State apparatus that will be called to invest the more than two hundred billion euro arriving from the EU. Much has been said about the fact that the new government is essentially a bipartite one: on the one hand, the team of technicians, selected by the Prime Minister to manage the decisive dossiers and European resources; on the other hand, the political team, placed almost in a subordinate position after the experience and crises of the Conte I and II. The novelty of recent weeks, however, lies in the attempt to introduce new profiles with high-level skills into the technical structure of the State, the one delegated to govern the executive phase of the Recovery Plan, which is now approaching. This is a minor detail for a country plagued by the formidable negligence of its thousands of bureaucracies.

The change of pace is also tangible in the relationship with European leaders: while Conte had been the skilful mediator, the prime minister anxious to gain credit among the continent’s greats, with excellent results, Draghi is still the strict guardian of Euroland’s accounts, so authoritative that he can even call Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to order. The head of the Italian government is aware that there can be no such thing as failure in the field of vaccines: hence highly scenographic and perfectly legitimate initiatives such as the stop on the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia.

Lastly, the Prime Minister’s reluctance to expose himself to the media, or the choice of having the competent ministers intervene on the various emergency dossiers, is truly emblematic. As well as the schedule of public outings of the Head of Government: after the video message recorded on the occasion of Women’s Day (March 8), followed by the visit to the anti Covid vaccination centre at Fiumicino airport (March 12). The next stop will be a visit to Bergamo to take part in the celebrations for the victims of the coronavirus (18 March).

All seasoned with few words, lots of facts and above all no room for the rituals of politics.