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Italy is enjoying an unusual period of political stability. But a crisis could be around the corner

Italy Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — As Italy enjoys an unusual period of political stability, there are growing fears that a possible departure by Prime Minister Mario Draghi next year could throw it back into disarray.

European House Ambrosetti Forum CEO Valerio De Molli told CNBC at the event Thursday that Italy was currently in the midst of a “window of stability.”

However, he added: “The political crisis in Italy is always next door so I cannot bet on all my family on that particular one, but, you know, we have a window of stability, of political institutional stability.”

Italy has experienced different government formations in recent years, but the political scene has materially calmed down since the appointment of Draghi as prime minister in February. The former European Central Bank chief has managed to get backing from both the left and right political spectrums and is a popular figure among the electorate.

“Mario Draghi is leading a coalition government, is able to understand and take into account the different sensibilities of the parties, but at the same time to fix goals and to reach them so the country understands that we are following a path and we are advancing,” Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, chairman of Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo, told CNBC Friday.

However, Italy’s days of stability could be numbered.

“We are not supposed to have any political crisis in the next six to nine months, then we need to have the election of the president of the Republic,” De Molli said.

Draghi’s name often comes up as a potential candidate to replace incumbent President Sergio Mattarella next year. If Draghi became president, however, it would leave a major gap at the executive power level.

Carlo Cottarelli, former director at the International Monetary Fund, said “chances are” Draghi will become president.

“At this point this government would collapse and we would have to go to general elections; that’s the biggest uncertainty,” Cottarelli told CNBC at the Ambrosetti Forum Friday. He said is was possible that Draghi will not continue as prime minister beyond the start of next year.

Ambrosetti’s De Molli said he thinks Draghi is best for Italy as prime minster, at the helm of the government and in charge of the day-to-day tasks.

“Frankly speaking, what Draghi is doing is … the right things for the country,” De Molli told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick. “He is not pro-left or or-right, he is doing what he is supposed to do.”

Draghi is not only pushing a reformist agenda, but is also overseeing large investments in the country and its Covid vaccination efforts.

On Thursday, Draghi urged Italians once again to get their Covid-19 shots as he wants 80% of people in the country vaccinated by the end of September. According to Our World in Data, 70% of Italians have received at least one dose and 61% are fully vaccinated. The nation was among the worst hit by the pandemic.

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