Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, has pledged to accelerate the country’s coronavirus vaccination program by presenting his government’s priorities ahead of a vote of confidence in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday.
In his long-awaited inaugural address, Draghi, who took office on Saturday, said that the government’s first duty was “to fight the pandemic by all means and safeguard the lives of citizens.”
His promise came after Italy recorded 336 more coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 94,171, the highest in Europe after the UK, and amid concerns about the rapid spread of Covid-19 variants. .
“The virus is everyone’s enemy,” Draghi said. “It is in memory of those who are no longer where our commitment grows.”
Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, said the government must act quickly to obtain and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. Italy had administered more than 3 million injections as of Wednesday morning, according to figures from the Health Ministry, but progress has been hampered by delayed vaccine deliveries.
Draghi’s other big task will be to pull Italy out of its worst recession since World War II while swiftly enacting reforms, including overhauling the public administration, tax and justice systems, aimed at boosting economic growth.
It will also have to rewrite the spending schedule for the € 209 billion Italy is about to receive from the EU’s post-Covid recovery fund to ensure the money is spent wisely. Clashes over a spending plan drawn up by the previous government, led by Giuseppe Conte, caused its collapse.
“The government will pass reforms and also address the emergency,” he said. “In the meantime, we must take care of those who are suffering now, the people who today are losing their jobs or are forced to close their businesses.”
Draghi said that the government had the possibility and the responsibility to rebuild the country, as it did in the postwar period.
“Italy recovered from the disaster of World War II with pride and determination, and laid the foundations for an economic miracle thanks to investment and work,” he added.
Italians, many of whom were angry and perplexed by the political crisis that led to Draghi’s appointment, expect swift action from the new government.
Draghi is highly respected at home and abroad, and was nicknamed “Super Mario” for his role in saving the single European currency. However, it faces a formidable challenge, especially since it will have to manage a broad coalition made up of diverse and constantly disputed political forces. Within hours of the government taking office on Saturday, there were clashes over the Health Minister’s last-minute decision to postpone the reopening of the ski resorts, while scientists advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic have been attacked by politicians for asking for a national total. emergency shutdown.
Draghi closed his speech by appealing to unity: “Today unity is not an option, it is a duty,” he said. “But it is a duty driven by what I am sure unites us all: love for Italy.”
Draghi has already secured strong support from a parliamentary majority and is expected to easily win the vote of confidence in the Senate, which will begin at 10 pm CET. Another vote will take place in the Lower House on Thursday, the last step necessary for full powers to be granted to the government.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism