“Germany could support his candidacy for the position of ECB president,” she told Die Zeit weekly in an interview.
Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has previously also suggested he would like to see Draghi as the next head of the ECB when Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet’s term ends in October.
Merkel told Die Zeit that Draghi was “a very interesting and experienced figure” whose positions on monetary stability and the 17-nation eurozone economy in general were close to her own.
She had previously remained mum on backing Draghi, even after French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his support for the Italian, with some observers speculating Merkel was holding out for some unspecified concessions.
It is widely understood that any successful candidate would have to have the backing of the two biggest eurozone economies.
Berlin was left without a viable candidate of its own after former Bundesbank president Axel Weber announced his resignation in February.
Draghi, head of the Italian central bank, then emerged as the most likely candidate though it would mean the ECB has both a president and vice president from southern European countries.
A former Goldman Sachs banker, Draghi already sits on the ECB governing council and has further experience in international finance as head of the Financial Stability Board, a post he has held since 2009.
His stated support for ensuring that eurozone inflation remains in check and that governments respect strict fiscal guidelines has been crucial in garnering support from Germany.