Italy crisis: populists set to form government

Cottarelli said the election would be held in August if he failed to secure confidence votes now

Di Maio was said to be wary about having another far-rightist as well as Salvini as his partner, since polls show the M5S has been bleeding voters it gained from the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) on March 4 because of the possible new government's rightward drift.

Italy's populist leaders got a second shot at putting together a government, as the 5-Star Movement and League said in a statement Thursday "all the conditions have been met".

Giuseppe Conte, 53, a law professor with no political experience, will be sworn in as prime minister along with his cabinet at 4pm local time on Friday by President Sergio Mattarella. He was confronted by a group of recently laid-off workers protesting outside parliament. We work for nothing.

Markets had been spooked at the prospect of an early election, fearing it would become a referendum on the euro.

Luigi Di Maio, the Five Star leader, called for the president's "impeachment" while Matteo Salvini, the League leader, fulminated that Italy was "not a colony" of Brussels, Paris or Berlin and that the coming elections would be a contest between "the people and the palace". They shifted their euroskeptic candidate for economy minister to another ministry and installed a more mainstream economist in his place.

Ministers are drawn from both the anti-establishment Five Star (M5S) and the right-wing League. "Gotta stay strong, or the bully boys will be after you", he warned.

But on Thursday EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned against blaming the EU for all of Italy's problems.

George Soros, the pro-EU billionaire, yesterday said the European Union had an "existential crisis" and needed to "reinvent itself" to make it more attractive for countries to stay in. "We have to be patient and keep our eyes open to be sure they don't go too far".


His comments sparked outrage in Italy, with Salvini blasting them as "racist" in his victory speech Thursday in northern Lombardy.

By Friday, EC spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Juncker "deeply regrets" the comments and reaffirmed that he not only loved Italy, but that the European Union executive was committed to working with its new government.

News of Conte's appointment came soon after Carlo Cottarelli, a former official at the International Monetary Fund who was asked by President Sergio Mattarella to form an interim government earlier this week, relinquished his mandate to make way for Conte.

The "spread" between Italian government bonds and their German counterparts, in particular, has widened considerably since the start of the year, indicating investors see Italian debt as a riskier investment.

28 May: In a day of rapidly moving events, Mr Conte takes his cabinet choices to Mr Mattarella but the president vetoes the choice of Paolo Savona as finance minister.

Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no political experience, will be sworn in as prime minister today.

Both will be deputy premiers and hold key ministries: Salvini at interior where he will implement a promised crackdown on undocumented migrants, and Di Maio at a new joint industry and labour ministry where he will roll out a basic income for job seekers and poor families.

"We are radically something other than the majority that supports this government", Renzi tweeted.

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