Draghi has turned his country from one whose political chaos has often prompted derision into a leader on the European stage, now he is running for president, a largely ceremonial role, and that has Italians worried.

Just a few months ago at an international summit in Rome, President Biden privately told Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy that when it came to showing that democracies can function well, “You are doing it.” For good measure, he added, according to a person in the room, the Italian had a “hell of a political operation,” The New York Times reports from Rome.

Since taking office last February, Mr. Draghi has stabilized Italy’s volatile politics, made populism unfashionable, and assured international markets with long-sought overhauls and tough coronavirus measures. He has turned a nation whose political chaos has often prompted derision into a leader on the European stage and imbued Italians with a renewed sense of pride and steadiness.

But suddenly Italians are facing the prospect that Mr. Draghi — formerly the president of the European Central Bank and widely credited with saving the euro — could exit as prime minister. Next week, starting on Jan. 24, Italian lawmakers vote for a new seven-year president, an influential but often ceremonial role that Mr. Draghi is widely understood to covet.

If he were to become president, his backers say, the political parties could clear the way for a new technocratic government or join forces again in another national unity government that could last until new elections in 2023. Mr. Draghi’s steadying influence as president, some hope, could extend a golden age of unusually unified Italian politics even far beyond that.

But the uncertainty around Mr. Draghi’s future has already unleashed pent-up political machinations and ambitions, pushing Italy back toward a dangerous, if familiar, precipice of instability. Members of Parliament and many Italians fear a mess that could lead to a significantly less effective administration or even a stumble into early elections, which almost no one wants.

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