Italy’s Populists Join the Establishment

Trusted technocrat Mario Draghi heads a coalition that includes former euroskeptics.

Mario Draghi speaks in Washington, Oct. 14, 2017.
Italy, like the U.S., recently completed an experiment in populist government. The antiestablishment Five Star Movement and the anti-immigration League formed a coalition after elections in 2018, but it broke down after little more than a year. As in America, the new head of government is an establishment figure. But unlike President Biden, Prime Minister Mario Draghi is known less as a politician than a technocrat: an economist with a doctorate from MIT who has headed the Italian Treasury, Bank of Italy and European Central Bank. He stays off social media and seldom gives interviews or public speeches.

“When I was prime minister, Mario Draghi was director general of the Treasury. I know him personally and professionally,” Lamberto Dini told me. He led the government in 1995-96, “He is very reserved. He would call only when there was a problem to solve, and he would solve it. He is not just a technocrat; he is a great political figure.”