Averting snap election, Italy's populists form government

Jun 02, 2018, 01:01
Averting snap election, Italy's populists form government

While both parties are populist in nature, and have railed against Brussels and Italian "elites", they have always been natural opponents in politics.Wolfango Piccoli, the co-president of Teneo Intelligence in London, said: "They are both led by young and ambitious leaders who share prime-ministerial ambitions".

In a remarkable case of political deja vu, Italy's President has appointed Giuseppe Conte, a law professor and political novice, as the country's new prime minister, the secretary of the presidential palace announced Thursday.

A political government would avoid an early election that investors worry would be seen as a referendum on the euro.

Di Maio, who pledged to give needy Italians a basic income, takes over as economic development minister, while Salvini heads the interior ministry, the key position to enforce his pledge to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Financial markets are nervous as Italy faces the prospect of new elections as early as September after a nascent populist government collapsed over the weekend, prolonging nearly three months of uncertainty.

But while Conte will nominally hold the most powerful office in Italy, the driving forces in his administration will be the leaders of the two political parties that gained most votes in an inconclusive election in March - the right-wing League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a conference Thursday that he loved Italy, but refused to accept the frequent pass-the-blame mantra by Italian politicians that Italy's ills are the fault of the EU.

"Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy".

The bid failed after Mattarella last Sunday vetoed the proposed economy minister, Paolo Savona, who had expressed doubts about whether Italy should stay in the eurozone.

Migrant arrivals to Italy have actually plunged in the past year under the center-left Democratic Party, which signed controversial deals with Libya to beef up coastal patrols and prevent migrants from setting out in smugglers' boats across the Mediterranean Sea.

George Soros, the pro-EU billionaire, yesterday said the European Union had an "existential crisis" and needed to "reinvent itself" to make it more attractive for countries to stay in.

But other analysts said the pound had been helped by data showing that the economy was strengthening somewhat after a sluggish first quarter.

"The idea of allocating more money for the protection of the external border, so allocating more money for the management of migratory flows, more management for common security are all things for which we have been advocating more commitment by the European Union".

News of Conte's appointment came soon after Carlo Cottarelli, a former official at the International Monetary Fund who was asked by President Sergio Mattarella to form an interim government earlier this week, relinquished his mandate to make way for Conte. Savona will enter the government as minister for European affairs.

The two parties together won a narrow majority in March 4 elections.

After the fits, starts and financial turbulence of recent days, the realization of a 5-Star-League coalition government put its populist posture on full display in Salvini's first public remarks.

Lorne Cook and Raf Casert contributed from Brussels, and Angela Charlton from Paris.

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