Italian PM quits four day after being asked to form government

Marco Green
May 29, 2018

Given the populists' majority in parliament, he will nearly certainly fail to get the required vote of confidence, triggering new elections within the next few months.

Why is he known as "Mr Scissors"?

However, Salvini dismissed calls on Monday by Five Star and a far-right ally, the Brothers of Italy, to chase Mattarella out of office.

The president has very limited powers but can appoint heads of government and their chosen ministers.

How did he get offered the job as PM?

Long-suffering Italians, who had thought that a new government consisting of the Five Star Movement and The League was on the cusp of being announced after more than 80 days of post-election deadlock, now face months more of electoral campaigning.

Although Matarella's decision is within the constitution, and previous presidents have refused to appoint certain ministers before, it is in many respects without precedent and has arguably enabled the populists - who have a parliamentary majority - to stage a propaganda coup.

But he abandoned his efforts when the president rejected his choice of economy minister.

"The designation of the economy minister always constitutes an immediate message of trust or alarm" for financial markets, Mattarella said, adding that he insisted on some someone who was not "supporting a position expressed a few times that could probably, or in fact inevitably, provoke Italy's exit from the euro".

5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio called on parliament to impeach the mild-mannered Mattarella, while League chief Matteo Salvini threatened mass protests unless snap elections were called.

After Mr Conte dropped out, the president - now facing calls for his impeachment due to his actions - turned to Mr Cottarelli to form Italy's 65th government since the Second World War.

Former IMF official Carlo Cottarelli.

A deepening political crisis in Italy provoked a second day of heavy selling on European financial markets, with the euro cut to a 6-1/2 month low, stocks punished and short-term borrowing costs surging for the government in Rome.

He used his first remarks as prime minister-designate to speak of "prudent" management of Italy's huge national debt - which at 132% of GDP is the second-highest level in Europe after Greece.

The vice president of the European Central Bank, Vitor Costancio, issued a reminder that emergency assistance programs require countries with troubled finances to stick to agreements on government spending.

Mr Cottarelli also sought to calm nerves in Brussels by insisting he would act in "full recognition that as a founding country of the EU, our role in the union is essential, as is our continued participation in the eurozone".

He aims to hold new elections at the beginning of next year, to bring an end to his interim administration.

Mr. Mattarella said he has done "everything possible" to aid the formation of a government, but that an openly eurosceptic economy minister ran against the parties' joint promise to simply "change Europe for the better from an Italian point of view".

"(The) crisis in Italy won't be only about restructuring of the debt and default with losses on the Italians", explained Cinzia Alcidi, from the Centre for European Policy Studies.

Both Mr Di Maio and Mr Salvini vowed not to support Mr Cottarelli and called for elections straight away.

On Sunday, Berlusconi showed support for Mattarella's "safeguarding the interests of Italian families and businesses", which led his pre-election ally Salvini to threaten to break their alliance if the billionaire media mogul voted in favor of the caretaker government.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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