New Italy PM starts off in shadow of his powerful deputies

Marsha Scott
June 3, 2018

Italy's president swore in western Europe's first populist government Friday, featuring a mix of anti-establishment and right-wing ministers who have promised an "Italy first" agenda that has alarmed Europe's political establishment.

Italy's new prime minister Giuseppe Conte mostly kept quiet on his full first day in office Saturday, while his two powerful deputies took centre stage in setting the tone of the populist government's policy.

"The new government will make sure that the rights and the dignity of 60-M Italians will be respected", Mr. Salvini said in a statement, adding that "Italians expect from Europe cooperation and not insults".

The law professor who has never before held political office was sworn in on Friday afternoon, ending nearly three months of political uncertainty and bringing to power a new populist government.

Italy's new anti-establishment government was being installed on Friday, calming markets spooked by the possibility of snap elections that might have become a de facto referendum on quitting the euro.

M5S leader Luigi Di Maio and League leader Matteo Salvini were sworn in as Economic Development and Labour Minister and Interior Minister respectively.

Mattarella gave the leaders time to form a coalition government after markets plunged on news of an interim administration that would take Italy to new elections. "But I am fed up of governments with the hat in their hand", Salvini said to cheers.

"We will work hard to reach the objectives included in the government contract and to improve the quality of life of all Italians", Conte said.

Mr Mattarella had vetoed the 5-Star-League's first proposed candidate for economy minister because of his Eurosceptic views.

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Global financial markets have been recovering over the past two days after tumbling on the spectre of repeat elections dominated by debate over Italy's future in the euro zone.

Salvini has long wanted his new post, from where he will aim to stop "the business" of migration, cracking down on people smuggling networks and speed up expulsions of illegal immigrants.

The announcement indicated that President Sergio Mattarella had accepted all of the ministers proposed by the anti-EU 5-Star Movement and League on their second try.

Political neophyte Giuseppe Conte, who skipped teaching a class at the University of Florence to return to Rome, was summoned to meet Mattarella at the presidential palace Thursday night.

The role of economy minister this time went to Giovanni Tria, a political economy professor who is in favour of keeping Italy in the euro, while Brussels savvy Enzo Moavero Milanesi was named as minister of foreign affairs.

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.

The new government delighted leaders of an increasingly bolder far-right in European politics.

"We are not yet at the point where investors refuse to lend money to Italy", said Roberto Coronado of PineBridge Investments. President Sergio Mattarella has called to his office the former International Monetary Fund official he'd tapped to run a possible interim government of technocrats. "That means more work, less corruption, seriousness".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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