Italy government: Giuseppe Conte to head populist coalition

Italy government: Giuseppe Conte to head populist coalition


Giuseppe Conte (L) shaking hands with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella in Rome. 31 May 2018Image copyright

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Giuseppe Conte (L) presented a new list of ministers to President Sergio Mattarella

A coalition government has been agreed in Italy, ending months of political wrangling.

PM designate Giuseppe Conte presented a list of ministers to President Sergio Mattarella for the second time in a week on Thursday and the new government will be sworn in on Friday.

Stop-gap prime minister Carlo Cottarelli has stepped back from forming a technocratic government.

Mr Mattarella had rejected Mr Conte’s original choice for finance minister.

But the populist Five Star (M5S) and League parties then agreed on another candidate and again tapped Mr Conte as their choice for prime minister.

Italy is the EU’s fourth-biggest economy and the uncertainty over its future rattled financial markets.

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  • Country profile

What deal was reached?

After meeting President Mattarella, Mr Conte confirmed reports that the new candidate for the key finance post would be economics professor Giovanni Tria.

Analysts say he is critical of the European Union but not an advocate of leaving the euro, making him more acceptable to President Mattarella.

Other ministerial posts named by Mr Conte include:

  • Interior: Matteo Salvini, leader of The League
  • Industry and labour: Luigi Di Maio, leader of Five-Star
  • Foreign: Enzo Moavero Milanesi, a former European Affairs minister
  • Defence: Elisabetta Trenta
  • Justice: Alfonso Bonafede
  • Health: Giulia Grillo
  • European Affairs: Paolo Savona

Mr Salvini and Mr Di Maio will also be deputy prime ministers.

How did we get here?

4 March: Inconclusive elections left Italy without a government.

The anti-establishment and populist Five Star was the biggest single party in parliament and attempted to form a coalition with right-wing populists the League.

They put forward Mr Conte, a political novice, as prime minister in an attempt to break Italy’s political deadlock.

28 May: In a day of rapidly moving events, Mr Conte took his cabinet choices to Mr Mattarella but the president vetoed the choice of Paolo Savona as finance minister.

Mr Mattarella said he could not appoint the eurosceptic to the post, citing concern from investors at home and abroad. Mr Conte declined to suggest an alternative and then surrendered his mandate.

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The president’s rare move sparked fury from both parties. Mr Di Maio called on parliament to impeach Mr Mattarella.

Later, the president asked ex-IMF economist Mr Cottarelli to form a government until fresh elections could be held. Mr Cottarelli is nicknamed “Mr Scissors” for his cuts to public spending in Italy.

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Image caption

Carlo Cottarelli (left) was President Sergio Mattarella’s choice for interim PM

29 May: The dust showed no sign of settling and Italy’s political turmoil spread to financial markets across the world.

The prospect of fresh elections and the possibility of eurosceptic parties strengthening their position in Italy raised concern about the eurozone’s stability.

30 May: Italian leaders announced fresh talks were being held to try to overcome the impasse.

Italian media quoted Mr Cottarelli as favouring “a political government” and saying he was waiting for “further developments”.

He appeared to have suspended his own efforts to form an interim administration and could instead be giving Five Star and the League a second chance, says BBC Rome correspondent James Reynolds.

31 May: Five Star and the League said they had agreed to restart coalition negotiations.

“All the conditions have been met for a M5S-League government,” a joint statement from the party leaders said.

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