LONDON – As Italy scrambles to control surging COVID-19 infections – including by making vaccination compulsory for anyone over 50 – cracks are appearing in the broad ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. A crucial test will come next week, when Italy’s 630 members of parliament, 321 senators, and 58 regional representatives elect a new president.
Many names have been put forward, including former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who appears to have the backing of the center-right bloc, despite a long history of scandals and a tax-fraud conviction. Another leading contender is Draghi himself, who has built a strong reputation as a highly capable leader.
Following two decades of stagnation, Italy’s economic outlook is bright. After shrinking by nearly 9% in 2020, GDP grew by more than 6% in 2021, largely owing to the government’s expansionary fiscal policy, funded by the €750 billion ($856 billion) Next Generation EU recovery fund.
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