Italian PM quits four day after being asked to form government

Hannah Rogers
May 28, 2018

Mattarella expressed his doubts about Savona although the 5 Star Movement and the League refused to back down from their choice, thus creating a standoff, given that Italy's president must approve a government's ministerial picks.

The leaders of the two parties trying to field a government, the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, accused President Sergio Mattarella of abusing his authority and working under the orders of European powers.

Cinque Stelle leader Luigi di Maio described the situation as "an institutional clash without precedent" and said he will seek Mattarella's impeachment.

The agreement to form a populist coalition came after weeks of fruitless negotiations following the results of the March 4 elections, which did not give any party an outright majority.

"Now we have to save our great country".

The political novice and 5-Star supporter selected by Di Maio and Salvini to be premier told reporters at the palace he had tried his best but didn't succeed, four days after Mattarella formally gave him a mandate to try to form the government on behalf of the populists.

Conte, 53, won Mattarella's approval as the next prime minister last week.

Cottarelli said in such a case, the government's principal job "would be the ordinary administration of government and to accompany the country to elections after the month of August".

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An irritated-looking Mattarella said he would reveal his next move "in a few hours".

Carlo Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund director, will face an uphill battle should, as expected, he is tasked with forming a technocrat government for Italy in the midst of a deep political crisis and populist rage at the financial "elite". He added that the League and 5-Star had refused to put forward any other name for the role.

The leaders of the two populist parties were furious over the Mattarella veto.

But they are gate-crashers in Italy's national politics, and on Sunday, former prime minister Matteo Renzi, a member of the Democratic Party, wrote on Facebook that Di Maio and Salvini had taken Italy hostage "for three months".

The president explained in a televised address his decision to block the appointment as finance minister of 81-year-old Eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona.

From a policy perspective, Savona has an anti-Europe stance and is opposed to the euro currency. In a bid to settle markets, he stressed that Italy's economy was growing, its public debt was "under control" and that he assured his government would prioritize "prudent" management of it.

Mattarella said: "Every day, the [bond] spread goes up, it raises our debt" costs. "It is my duty", he said, "to safeguard the personal savings of Italian citizens".

Outgoing Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Sunday that the problem was not Savona, but the coalition's economic plan, which is "clearly unsustainable".

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