Friday, 19 October, 2018

Populist government sworn in, ending Italy's political deadlock

Matteo Salvini leader of the League speaks to the press on 14 May Matteo Salvini leader of the League speaks to the press on 14 May
Charlie Simmons | 06 June, 2018, 02:18

The post of finance minister is a sticking point in Five Star and League attempts to form a government together, after President Sergio Mattarella vetoed euroskeptic economist Paolo Savona on Sunday.

Mattarella's act scuttled Conte's first try to assemble a coalition uniting the forces of Di Maio's 5-Stars and his populist rival Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League, which is based in the affluent north.

Conte, 53, who has been criticised as being a "Mr Nobody", named hardline anti-migrant Salvini as interior minister, while Di Maio is minister for economic development.

Populists took power in Italy for the first time Friday with the swearing-in of a new government fusing in a coalition a political movement that delights in pillorying the establishment and a party whose anti-migrant, euro-skeptic politics have seen it soar in popularity.

The two enraged parties abandoned their joint bid for power, and on Monday Mattarella asked ex-IMF economist Carlo Cottarelli to form a caretaker government created to take Italy to what looked like probable autumn elections.

Mr. Mattarella paved the way for the formation of the alliance between the two populist parties when he threatened to break a long stalemate by appointing a technocratic government.

The Government was formed after three months of political deadlock following inconclusive March 4 elections, with the pre-election rivals striking a last-minute deal on Thursday to avert a fresh vote in high summer amid growing market turmoil.

The new government would be expected to take a strong Euroskeptic line and seek confrontation with Brussels on eurozone governance, the European Union budget, Russian Federation sanctions and migration.

Savona, 81, was ultimately given a role in the government as minister of European affairs.

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Both will also be deputy prime ministers.

Days of negotiations have ended and Italy will have a coalition government, after all.

Demonstrators protest against Italy's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini during his visits to a so-called "hot spot" in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo.

Italy hosted the European Union's founding Treaty of Rome 60 years ago, but the once enthusiastically pro-EU Italians have progressively become disenchanted with Europe, blaming its fiscal rules for two decades of economic stagnation.

In addition, Mr Salvini says he is considering action against organisations rescuing migrants at sea.

Speaking in the town of Pozzallo, he said: "Italy and Sicily can not be Europe's refugee camp".

The opposition Democratic Party warned that the new government would be "Right-wing, populist and unsafe".

The League is strongly anti-immigration and a joint plan agreed with the M5S in forming the new government reflects that stance.

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