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Ex-Italian PM accepts mandate to form new government

Giuseppe Conte will now attempt to set up a coalition between his 5-Star Movement and its previous foe Democratic Party.

Italy’s president has given the recently resigned premier, Giuseppe Conte, a fresh mandate to see if he can form a new government (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Italy’s president has given the recently resigned premier, Giuseppe Conte, a fresh mandate to see if he can form a new government (Andrew Medichini/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

Ex-Italian premier Giuseppe Conte has accepted a fresh mandate to try to form a new government backed by the populist 5-Star Movement and the centre-left Democrats, aimed at blocking right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini’s grab for power.

Mr Conte said after meeting with Italian president Sergio Mattarella that he would meet with the parties immediately in a bid to establish political stability as quickly as possible after the crisis triggered by Mr Salvini’s power play that collapsed the 14-month-old populist government.

“This is a very delicate phase for the country,” said Mr Conte, who was forced to resign on August 20 after Mr Salvini pulled support for his government.

“We need to exit political uncertainty as quickly as possible.”

Mr Conte said he will work hard to give the country a solid government, adding: “We need to make up for the time we’ve lost to allow Italy to recover its central role in Europe.”

This is a very delicate phase for the country Giuseppe Conte

Mr Salvini’s move created political instability that once again focused investor attention on Italy, raising borrowing costs on its stubbornly high debt.

Italy also faces a critical fall deadline for drafting a budget for the European Union, with the looming prospect of raising the value-added tax to cover shortfalls.

The populist 5-Star Movement and Democrats have banded together in an unlikely alliance together to thwart Mr Salvini’s bungled attempt to grab power when he unexpectedly withdrew support for the foundering League-5-Star government to seek early elections.

The new alliance appears to forestall elections — for now.

But even if Mr Conte manages to form a government, wins the support of Mr Mattarella and a vote of confidence in parliament, political analysts warn it is unlikely to last.

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Designate premier Giuseppe Conte delivers his speech after a meeting with President Sergio Mattarella (Alessandro Di Met/ANSA via AP)

The Democratic Party refused to even consider talks with the 5-Stars after the inconclusive March 2018 national elections eventually led to the coalition with the League, and the two parties have long traded barbed insults.

Mr Salvini was emboldened to pull the plug on the government by his strong showing in this spring’s European elections, local votes and political surveys that showed that the League had nearly doubled its support since the 2018 elections, while that of the 5-Stars had essentially fallen by half.

But Mr Salvini, whose popularity soared with on his anti-migrant policies, did not count on the former political foes closing ranks to block his bid for power.

Mr Conte, 55, is seen as an ally of the 5-Stars, even though the law professor had no party affiliation when he became premier in June 2018.

He kept a relatively low profile during the 14-month 5-Star-League government, but, before handing in his resignation to Mr Mattarella, he lashed out at Mr Salvini for forcing his government to collapse.

PA

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