Carlo Cottarelli: Italy president names stop-gap PM

Muriel Colon
May 28, 2018

Italian President Sergio Mattarella asked economist Carlo Cottarelli to form a government with new elections due as early as the fall, as populist leaders railed against the president and the European Union for scuppering their bid for power.

New elections are likely after President Sergio Mattarella effectively torpedoed an anti-establishment coalition waiting in the wings by rejecting its choice of a Eurosceptic finance minister.

Italy's president has come under fire after he vetoed the proposed economy minister of what would have been Western Europe's first populist government, ushering in the likelihood of a new election within months. "We'll see if we can start a discussion on the electoral law in parliament".

President Donald Trump said Sunday that representatives from the USA had arrived in North Korea over the weekend, in an effort to prepare for a proposed summit between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Support for the League, which won 17 percent of the vote in the March elections, is expected to grow - while 5-Star continues to enjoy backing of above 30%.

Appoint a technocratic government to rule for the remainder of 2018, with elections delayed until early next year.

Before Conte or Mattarella had finished their meeting, far-right League leader, Matteo Salvini, insisted the only option now was to "let the Italians have their say" and hold another election, probably later this year.

Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement is considering campaigning together with the far-right League if the nation goes back to the polls, a 5-star source said on Monday.

For now, political chaos in Italy reigns supreme.

Mattarella confirmed that the nomination by the Five Star Movement and the League of Paolo Savona for economy minister saw the end of Conte's brief mandate.

Following Sunday's decision by Mattarella, M5S leader Luigi Di Maio called on the country's parliament to discuss possible impeachment of the Italian president.

On Friday, ratings agency Moody's threatened to downgrade Italy's debt rating, citing a risk the a populist-led government might fail to reduce its public debt.

Two of the big winners from the vote - Five Star and the League - attempted to join forces but abandoned efforts after the president vetoed their choice of finance minister.

Cottarelli would appease financial markets but his administration may not get sufficient parliamentary support, meaning such a cabinet would remain in office as a caretaker for some months until a new round of elections is held. Then, the combined parliament of about 950 members would have to vote to impeach the president with an absolute majority.

Both Salvini and Di Maio had staunchly backed Savona, and pressed Mattarella regarding the proposed government team in separate meetings with the head of state earlier on Sunday afternoon.

The vote gave the centre-right alliance of the League, Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia and a smaller party 37%, while the Five Star Movement took 32%.

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