Friday, 22 June, 2018

Italian economist to meet president amid political crisis

Italian President Sergio Mattarella addresses the media after meeting Italy's premier-designate Giuseppe Conte in Rome on Sunday European Union - Italy's Conte fights to form team as ally threatens new vote
Gerardo Duncan | 28 May, 2018, 14:47

Analysts say there is relief that the likelihood of a populist Eurosceptic government, in the Eurozone's third-largest economy, has receded.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said he refused to approve populist leaders' choice of an economy minister who has expressed anti-euro views because the appointment would have "alarmed markets and investors, Italians and foreigners".

Following the rejection of Paolo Savona's candidacy for minister of economy, ex PM-designate Conte said he had given up on attempts to form a government, leaving open the possibility the country would face new elections.

In a terse comment to reporters after he relinquished a presidential mandate to put together an acceptable Cabinet, Conte said he "gave the maximum effort, attention, to carry out this task with the full collaboration" of the 5-Star Movement and League.

Di Maio also called for holding new parliamentary elections after the impeachment of Mattarella.

Conte, who was virtually unknown until last week, was chosen by the leaders of the League and 5-Star to be prime minister after weeks of negotiations.

It will not be a political election, but a referendum on preserving democracy ...

Italians had entered the weekend thinking such a government might be just days away from taking power.

There is now a real argument between the president and the populists about Italy's position in the European Union, he adds.

10 2008 shows the 81 hold economist Paolo Savona looking on during a meeting in Rome. Paolo Savona chosen by the Italian populists to be the new finance minister is an eurosceptic economist very critical of Germany who made
Italy's efforts to form government break down as eurosceptic Savona rejected

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".

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. 5-Star had waged an independent campaign at inconclusive March 4 elections, while the League campaigned as part of a coalition of right-wing parties.

Mattarella ultimately refused to back the so-called "euroskeptic" for the economy portfolio.

Carlo Cottarelli would be a calming choice for the financial markets.

Shortly afterwards, he summoned former International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior official Carlo Cottarelli for a Monday morning meeting - an indication he may be considering asking him to head a government of unelected technocrats.

Last week, it looked as if Italy was finally about to get a new government after nearly three months of political deadlock following inconclusive elections back in March.

Savona, who served as industry minister in a government in the 1990s, has questioned whether Italy at some point should ditch the euro as its official currency.

"The League and 5-Star Movement parties could expand their influence even further if a re-election is called, and Italian politics will remain unstable", said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

But Mr. Salvini, a gifted politician, stands to gain the most from new elections.

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