Read first-hand what Prime Minister Mario Draghi, President of the Council of Ministers, said at the Dinner of the Correspondents of the Foreign Press on July 12, 2022, at 1845 pm at Villa Aurella in Rome, just a few days before the Italy President Sergio Mattarella would refuse his resignation. Were there any clues of the news that was to follow?
The news of the PM’s resignation he decided at 6 pm on July 14, after having held Italy with bated breath from 3 pm on a whole afternoon, shocked the Italian political world and immediately negatively influenced the Italian and European stock exchanges by raising the spread to dangerous levels in Italy.
The “majority of national unity no longer exists.” With this motivation, Prime Minister Draghi presented his resignation to the Head of State who rejected it, sending the Prime Minister back to the Chambers to “carry out, in his own seat, an assessment of the situation that is determined.”
“Wednesday, 20 July, will be the day of accountability in Parliament. Before the country, every political force will have to assume its responsibilities.” So said Debora Serracchiani, leader of the Pd (Demo-political party) group in the Chamber.
The lightheartedness of the Premier on July 12 at Villa Aurelia, Rome
On Tuesday, July 12, the first Foreign Press Correspondents Dinner in Italy was held with the participation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, inspired in some way by the “White House Correspondents’ Dinner” which has existed since 1921.
Upon his arrival, PM Draghi was greeted by the current President of the Foreign Press, Ms. Esma Cakir.
During his short speech, we met an “unedited” Premier in brilliant form, smiling, open to jokes, an expression never seen in his institutional holdings.
Draghi opened his speech by saying:
“Normally on these occasions the Prime Minister is expected to make a light, ironic speech, a little out of the box.”
He then added, smiling, “Well, you started off well, with a former central banker.”
Draghi then continued: “As they say, within the limits of my mandate, I will do everything necessary to contribute to the success of this special dinner party. In other words, I will be a grandfather in the service of the foreign press,” quoting a joke from him before the election of the President of the Republic last December when he said: “I am a man, if you like a grandfather, at the service of the institutions.”
Then he focused on the successes that Italy achieved last summer, from the victory at the European football championships to the gold medals at the Olympics, through the final of Matteo Berrettini at the Wimbledon tournament, the victory of the Måneskin at the Eurovision Song Contest, and the Nobel Prize in Physics won by Giorgio Parisi.
Regarding what happened after these great results, however, Draghi joked as follows: “From that moment on, things went really well. Italy did not qualify for the World Cup, we finished sixth at Eurovision, Berrettini did not participate in Wimbledon because he took COVID, and let’s say that I live in terror that the Swedish Academy will think about it and call Parisi, because they were wrong.”
Italy is proving to be a strong country
Between one joke and another, Draghi also spoke more seriously about the various internal and international problems that his government is facing: the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the increase in energy costs, and the increase in inflation.
Draghi said that in the face of these problems, Italy is proving to be a strong country. “Maybe it’s new to you, but it’s a strong country. Our economy is still growing. Because it is a higher [growth] rate than the average of the last twenty years, but certainly the risks we face are very serious.”
In the most serious passage of his speech, Draghi listed some measures that the government intends to take – including tax reform, the reform of the procurement code, and the reform of competition – but added:
“I am not making the list that the presidents of the Council usually do to glorify their work; this is a very short list.”
Also referring to social reforms and the reduction of Italian dependence on Russian gas, Draghi specified that the merit of these results is “of the majority that supports the government […] but above all of the Italians.”
And between the serious and the facetious but with a serious intention, he hinted that he is managing some turbulence within the majority.
Many commentators have interpreted this decision as the first sign of a future government crisis.
On Tuesday afternoon before the dinner with the correspondents, Draghi held a press conference at Palazzo Chigi to present some government maneuvers on the cost of living, exposing the reality by reiterating a concept already expressed previously, namely that this majority is the only one possible and he has no intention of accepting another mandate as prime minister. “There is no government without the 5 Star Movement,” he stated.
“I thank you for your work, and the many results achieved. We must be proud of what we have achieved, in a very difficult moment, in the interest of all Italians,” concluded Draghi.