Italy’s Draghi, with lavish state pensions, renounces salary as PM

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi waits for the start of an informal dinner event during an EU summit at the Crystal Palace in Porto, Portugal, 7 May 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

Mario Draghi, who draws at least two generous state pensions and owns or part-owns around 10 houses, has said he will not receive any salary for his job as Italy’s prime minister.

Italian politicians are obliged to publish their tax returns and Draghi took advantage of the occasion to announce that he was giving up the gross salary of around €110,000 that he had a right to as premier.

He did not give any reason for the decision.

Draghi’s 2020 tax return, published late on Wednesday (13 May), showed he received gross income of €583,470 in 2019.

Of this, €498,144 came from state pensions he receives from his previous jobs as director general of the Treasury and governor of the Bank of Italy, his spokeswoman said.

Massimiliano Panarari, a political communications expert at Unimercatorum university, said Draghi’s decision to give up his salary was probably intended to show solidarity with Italians hit hard by economic recession.

“However, it could also be seen as a populist gesture, so Draghi would have done better to explain it more fully,” he added.

The co-ruling 5-Star Movement has often been described by opponents as populist over the fact that their parliamentarians give up a large part of their salaries.

“I imagine Draghi has done this because he sees his role as one of service to the country,” said Giovanni Orsina, politics professor at Rome’s LUISS university.

Draghi, who is now 73, was 54 when he left the Treasury in 2001 to take up a top job with investment bank Goldman Sachs in London. He was 64 when he left the Bank of Italy.

Italian media have reported that Draghi has received almost €15,000 per month gross from his Treasury pension since the age of 59.

His spokeswoman said she was not able to immediately confirm this.

Draghi’s predecessor Giuseppe Conte received around €90,000 gross as prime minister, giving up 20% of what he was entitled to.

Several previous Italian prime ministers, including Paolo Gentiloni in 2016-18 and Enrico Letta in 2013-14 did not receive a salary because, unlike Draghi, they were also lawmakers and Italian law forbids accumulating income from the two roles.

Mario Monti, who was prime minister in 2011-13, gave up the salary he was entitled to after he was named a life senator.

Draghi’s tax return showed he owned or co-owned 10 houses or similar buildings, including one in London, and six areas of land.

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