In the days before Christmas, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi was peppered with journalists’ questions about the biggest issue looming over Italy’s future. Was Draghi ready to move on from the job he took on 11 months ago and assume the presidency when incumbent Sergio Mattarella’s term ends on February 3?
Traditionally, protocol dictates prospective Italian presidents firmly rebuff any suggestion of interest in a job whose selection process is akin to a Papal conclave — no formal candidates, multiple secret ballots and intense backroom negotiations. Yet Draghi gave a response which, for Italy’s political class, was clearly a coded offer of availability. “I don’t have any particular aspirations of one type or another,” the former European Central Bank president said. “I am a man, a grandfather, at the service of the institutions.”