Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Italian PM quits four day after being asked to form government

Salvini GETTYSalvini has defended the eurosceptic views of the finance minister appointee
Gerardo Duncan | 01 June, 2018, 20:46

The League leader is advocating for an election at the earliest possible date, which is no surprise since polls suggest his party would be the biggest victor if the Italians return to the polls.

The uncertainty prompted Moody's to place a dozen Italian banks on negative ratings watch Wednesday, including Intesa Sanpaolo, UniCredit and Mediobanca, having already Friday placed Italy's Baa2 rating on review for a possible downgrade over its political crisis.

"It was a big mistake to say no to a government which had a majority, a programme and a list of ministers", said Salvini.

The two parties' approved nominee for Prime Minister, lawyer and political novice Giuseppe Conte, stepped aside over the decision, exacerbating the political turmoil nearly three months after March's inconclusive general election.

Cottarelli added: "This circumstance, also considering market tensions, has compelled me to wait for further developments". In response, government officials expressed solidarity for Mr. Mattarella.

Markets relaxed with the news, with the Milan stock exchange maintaining its upward momentum, up 0.8%.

As soon as Conte took his first step on the political stage, it was revealed that he had inflated his CV with false claims of appointments as a researcher at various universities in the USA and Europe.

Salvini and Di Maio furiously denounced the presidential veto, blasting what they called meddling by Germany, debt ratings agencies, financial lobbies, and even alleging lies from Mattarella's staff.

The leader of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has proposed moving the contested ministerial candidate to a different Cabinet post.

A more likely scenario is Cottarelli holding on until autumn, with new elections likely in early October. "They've replaced a government with a majority with one that won't obtain one", said Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio to supporters at a rally near Rome.

A senior US Treasury official said it would be better for Italy to resolve its current political crisis while staying within the eurozone.

Mr Salvini has long complained that Mr Mattarella never gave the centre-right bloc that brought in the highest percentage of votes - 37% - a mandate to try to form a government. The League had always been a junior partner in Berlusconi's governments over the past two decades, but emerged from the March 4 vote as the leading power in the center-right.

In light of the populists' successful talks, Cottarelli announced Thursday that he was giving up his mandate to form a technocrat government.

Salvini earlier dismissed a Five Star offer to form a populist government, calling instead for early elections as soon as possible "but not at the end of July" because of holidays. That would have been previously unthinkable, given it would be hampered by low voter turnout due to Italian summer vacations.

Two polls released on Wednesday night showed that around two thirds of Italians want the country to remain part of the euro while around a quarter would choose to drop the common currency. "I have had enough, that is the truth", said exasperated Rome resident Teresa Gallo as she was walking to a market for her regular morning shopping. "But certainly Italy has been pushed a bit to the margins".

As I write on Wednesday evening, Cottarelli and others are signaling that the Five Star Movement and the League might still be able to form a coalition government.

"Then parliament would be dissolved with elections at the beginning of 2019", Cottarelli said.

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