Italy’s premier-designate has told the president he has been unable to form what would have been western Europe’s first populist government.
A presidential palace official said that Giuseppe Conte “has given back the mandate” to try to form a government that President Sergio Mattarella gave him four days earlier.
Mr Conte said he tried his hardest to form the country’s next government and had full cooperation from would-be coalition partners, the populist 5-Star Movement and League parties.
The University of Florence law professor said he “gave the maximum effort, attention, to carry out this task with the full collaboration” of the 5-Star Movement and League.
Mr Conte, who has no political experience, received the mandate last week from the pro-European Mr Mattarella.
Assembling a Cabinet acceptable to both Mr Mattarella and the populist partners foundered on League leader Matteo Salvini’s insistence on a Eurosceptic economy minister.
League leader Matteo Salvini tweeted on Sunday that he would keep fighting “to the end” for the anti-euro candidate he wants to be the minister.
Paolo Savona has likened Italy to being in a “cage” of austerity restrictions favoured by fellow eurozone member Germany.
Mr Salvini and 5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, a fellow Eurosceptic, joined forces in the hope of giving Italy its first populist government.
After inconclusive March 4 elections, they proposed Mr Conte as their choice to lead the next government.