Giuseppe Conte refuses to be Italy’s PM - presidential administration

Geraldine Edwards
May 29, 2018

Italian prime minister-designate Giuseppe Conte's attempt to form a government were blocked on Sunday by the country's president.

Amid growing political turmoil, economist Carlo Cottarelli was tapped on Monday to lead Italy to early elections, possibly as soon as after the summer, after populist parties failed to convince the president their Cabinet picks wouldn't destroy global investors' faith in the country.

The move has angered two anti-establishment parties - Cinque Stelle and Lega - that have been locked in talks for the past fortnight in a bid to form a coalition government.

After the likely "no" vote Mr Cottarelli's government will be charged with managing current affairs pending new elections, the date of which will be determined by the president in agreement with the political leaders and the speakers of the two houses of parliament. "It's time for a political revolution for the people", he said. In the book, he calls the euro a "straitjacket produced in Germany", says that Berlin "hasn't changed its view of the role of Europe since the Nazi era" and that membership in the common currency "involves fascism without dictatorship".

Mr. Cottarelli said he was asked to keep an interim government intact until early next year, at least.

The leader of the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, which had an electoral pact with the League, said the head of state should be impeached, accusing him of abusing his position.

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Amidst the outrage, the leader of the largely collapsed Democratic Party (PD), Maurizio Martina, voiced his support for Mattarella, saying that his party-widely understood to represent the establishment-was ready "to mobilize a defense of democracy and our institutions" if attacks on the Italian president persist.

Cottarelli said that should his proposed Cabinet be confirmed in Parliament, he would set to work to ensure the country's official budget is approved by lawmakers.

In the perennially "Alice in Wonderland" scenario of Italian politics, few things seem certain now.

Mr Mattarella vetoed Paolo Savona being put in charge of Italy's economy because the Eurosceptic university professor has previously questioned whether Italy should quit the euro.

Mattarella told reporters that it's important for confidence in broader financial markets that Italy signals its intentions to remain part of the euro.

"I asked for the (economy) ministry an authoritative person from the parliamentary majority who is consistent with the government programme... who isn't seen as a supporter of a line that could probably, or even inevitably, provoke Italy's exit from the euro", Mattarella said.

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Politics in Italy took another dramatic turn overnight, as the tentative right-wing coalition which formed government in early May unraveled. Italy's stock market opened up 1.5 percent.

"This burns away resources and the savings of companies and prefigures risks for Italian families and citizens, including for mortgages". M5S sources said that it is the "biggest fake new in history" that Savona has called for Italy to quit the euro.

"I have agreed with and accepted all the proposals for the Ministers, except that of the finance minister", he said Sunday.

The country could be headed for another election in the coming months.

However, Salvini dismissed calls on Monday by Five Star and a far-right ally, the Brothers of Italy, to chase Mattarella out of office.

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