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Italy’s anti-establishment PM nominee begins work on cabinet formation after weeks of political uncertainty

Italy’s president approved Giuseppe Conte’s nomination to be PM of a government formed by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League. Conte from Five Star said he would present his cabinet in a few days.

world Updated: May 24, 2018 15:50 IST
Press Trust of India, Rome
Italy,anti-establishment,cabinet formation
Giuseppe Conte (pictured) sought a more conciliatory tone towards Europe.(Reuters)

A little-known lawyer charged with forming Italy’s next government — after over two months of political uncertainty — will on begin work on his cabinet on Thursday.

Italy’s president on Wednesday approved Giuseppe Conte’s nomination to be prime minister of a government formed by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League.

Conte, who hails from Five Star, said that he would present President Sergio Mattarella with his cabinet, which has been the subject of days of tough negotiations between Five Star and the League, within “the next few days”.

The list of ministerial candidates must be endorsed by Mattarella before it can seek parliamentary approval.

Italian media reported that League chief Matteo Salvini would become interior minister while Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio would be in charge of the economic development ministry.

“The President of the Republic has tasked me with the role of forming a government,” Conte told reporters on Wednesday evening after a nearly two-hour meeting with President Mattarella.

Conte’s appointment could herald an end to the political limbo in the eurozone’s third-biggest economy — but the coalition’s eurosceptic and anti-immigrant stance has alarmed senior European officials.

However, 53-year-old Conte, unveiled Monday as anti-establishment Five Star Movement and nationalist League’s pick for premier, sought a more conciliatory tone towards Europe when speaking to journalists at the presidential Quirinal palace.

“I’m aware of the necessity to confirm Italy’s place, both in Europe and internationally,” said Conte, who cast himself as the “people’s lawyer”.

“My intent is to give life to a government of the people that looks after their interests. I’m ready to defend the interests of Italians in Europe and internationally, maintaining dialogue with European institutions and representatives of other countries.”

Mattarella has reportedly been concerned about plans by the two parties in negotiation to name Paolo Savona as economy minister.

Minister for industry between 1993-94, Savona, 81, was staunchly opposed to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty and has said he considers the euro currency a “German cage”.

A joint government programme unveiled by the parties on Friday pledges significant anti-austerity measures such as drastic tax cuts, a monthly basic income and pension reform rollbacks, which Di Maio and Salvini claim will boost growth.

EU officials have voiced concern that Italy could trigger a new eurozone crisis by refusing to stick to public spending and debt targets set by Brussels.

Pierre Moscovici, the EU Economic Affairs Commissioner, said on Wednesday that Italy must deliver a “credible” response on how it will reduce its debt, the eurozone’s second largest in proportion to GDP.

The Milan stock exchange lost 1.31% Wednesday, while the difference in yield on Italian 10-year sovereign bonds compared to Germany’s has increased 60 base points to 191 in just eight days — a sign of increasing investor concern for Italy’s financial stability.

First Published: May 24, 2018 15:40 IST