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Enrico Letta on Italian politics: “Houston, we have a problem”

Why is Italy's political scene so unstable and what are the odds that its newest Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, can pull it out of a tailspin? Since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers, six in the last decade alone. One of those six prime ministers to have resigned in the last ten years is Enrico Letta, who shares his perspective in a conversation with with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Italy’s dysfunctional politics

Italy's economy was already weak before the pandemic, but saw a nearly 9-point decline in GDP over the past year. While unemployment was dropping from a decade high reached in 2014, it was still around 10% in early 2020. And if you don't like Italy's political leaders…just wait a minute. They'll change. In fact, since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers. By comparison, Germany has had only three chancellors and France just five presidents. Can Italy's new Prime Minister pull the country out of its political tailspin? Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Who is Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi?

Only in Italy could a mild-mannered technocrat be widely popular for just being, well, competent. But that's exactly how Mario Draghi (nicknamed Super Mario) has been received since he agreed to lead the country at a moment of political turmoil this February. Why is Draghi so popular and why is he poised to be a leader of not just Italy but Europe as a whole? Ian Bremmer poses those questions to another former Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta, on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Whoever said, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" clearly could not envision what would become of Italian politics. Since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers, six in the last decade alone. And while the pandemic afforded the government some much-needed political unity in the short-term, the warm feelings cooled quickly this winter as political infighting forced a popular prime minister to resign. But Italy's new leader, Mario Draghi (nicknamed "Super Mario"), looks like he just might break the mold and deliver positive change—and political stability—to Italy. That's according to Enrico Letta, one of those six prime ministers to have resigned in the last ten years. Letta joins Ian Bremmer on this episode of GZERO World.

Podcast: Italy In Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Listen: Whoever said, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" clearly could not envision what would become of Italian politics. Since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers, six in the last decade alone. And while the pandemic afforded the government some much-needed political unity in the short-term, the warm feelings cooled quickly this winter as political infighting forced a popular prime minister to resign. But Italy's new leader, Mario Draghi (nicknamed "Super Mario") looks like he just might break the mold and deliver positive change—and political stability—to Italy. That's according to Enrico Letta, one of those six prime ministers to have resigned in the last ten years. Letta joins Ian Bremmer on this episode of the GZERO World podcast.

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What We’re Watching: Italy invests in women, Libya’s unity government, Quad vs China

Closing Italy's gender gap: Mario Draghi, Italy's new prime minister, says that increasing female employment will be a priority as Rome spends the nearly $250 billion in COVID relief funds from Brussels. Barely over 50 percent of Italian women are employed, a rate that lags the EU average by nearly 20 points, and female representation at the highest levels of government has traditionally been weak. Early in the pandemic the government came under fire for forming an all-male coronavirus task force, despite the fact that women make up a majority of healthcare professionals, and women currently hold only 8 out of 23 positions in Draghi's own cabinet. Over the past decade, new laws have pushed large Italian corporations to make major strides in female representation on their boards, but small businesses have lagged — as has the government, where even in professions where women prevail, they rarely reach the top ranks, according to the FT (paywall). As 2021 brings us closer to the end of a pandemic in which women have disproportionately suffered the economic and social fallout, will gender inequality figures be the focus of other countries' rebuilding plans too?

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Quick Take: "America Is Back": Biden on Munich's virtual tour

Ian's Quick Take:

Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here on a snowy Friday in New York City. But if it was any other year, I'd actually be in Munich right now for the annual Munich Security Conference. It's the largest gathering every year of foreign and security policy leaders and experts from the transatlantic community, and increasingly from around the world. It's, for obvious reasons, postponed this year, they're hoping to put something together in the summer in-person, but that didn't stop some of the most prominent leaders across the transatlantic partners from speaking virtually at an event that streamed live over a few hours today. So, given that I thought I'd give you a quick response on what I thought was happening and answer some of your questions.

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What We're Watching: Frozen Texas, another Nigerian kidnapping, Super Mario's next level

Texas on ice: Winter storms and uncharacteristically freezing weather have plunged the normally toasty US state of Texas into a severe crisis, as power grids knocked offline by the cold had left nearly 3 million people without electricity by Wednesday morning. The state's 29 million residents are now subject to rolling blackouts. Like everything else in America, the situation in Texas has already become a partisan football. Republicans skeptical of renewable energy seized on a handful of frozen wind turbines to argue that the failure of clean energy sources was responsible for the crisis, but data show the collapse in energy supply is overwhelmingly the result of natural gas infrastructure being knocked offline by the cold (pipelines in Texas generally aren't insulated.) In addition, because of resistance to federal regulation, Texas' grid runs with lower reserve power margins and no connection to surrounding state grids, meaning that no power can be imported when a crisis strikes. The sustainability of that model is likely to be the subject of fierce political wrangling in coming months, and will likely spill over into debates on Capitol Hill about "Green Stimulus." For now, millions of Texans are shivering, and not happy about it.

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