Mario Draghi ushers in the counter-revolution but he can’t save Italy

Italy has gone through the gears, from democratic revolt against the euro and the country’s pro-EU elites, all the way to the other extreme of a technocrat government under the ultimate Mr Euro, without any election along the way.

The stitch-up has been breath-taking, even for those who thought they had seen it all in Italy. The appointment of Mario Draghi to navigate the dangerous economic waters of the next two years is astute - in one sense - but those in EU circles and the bond markets celebrating this insider riconquista should be careful what they wish for…

This episode is more ambiguous than the institutional coup against Silvio Berlusconi, defenestrated in 2011 after he threatened to take Italy out of the euro. On that occasion a former EU commissioner was installed in charge. Mario Monti was a well-meaning statesman but the experiment failed. It led to the Lega-Five Star backlash.

President Sergio Mattarella is within his constitutional rights to turn to another Super Mario, this time from the European Central Bank. But all Italy knows that this is a last-ditch manoeuvre to avert elections.

A vote on Thursday might lead to a very unwelcome outcome for the poteri forti, the mandarins and bankers behind the scenes who pull the strings of the permanent government. The Lega and the Right-wing Fratelli d’Italia are together running at 40.5pc in the latest TECNÈ survey. This would give them a shot at an outright majority in parliament, even without Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. The Lega is not as fierce as it once was, but nor has it been ideologically co-opted. It still has a proto-lira in its back pocket.

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