Euroskeptics jubilant as Italy prepares to form western Europe's first populist government

Casey Dawson
June 3, 2018

Just a short time earlier, President Sergio Mattarella's office announced that the new premier, University of Florence law professor Giuseppe Conte, and his ministers would be sworn in Friday afternoon.

The deal followed an extraordinary few days in which Di Maio called for the head of state to be impeached, two successive prime ministers-designate were tasked to form a government, one of whom quit only to be reinstated on Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, Italian news agency ANSA quoted sources close to Cottarelli who said he would wait for possible developments before pressing ahead with the formation of an interim government.

Di Maio, whose 5-Star emerged from the inconclusive March 4 elections as the largest single party, urged Salvini to drop his insistence on Savona for the economy portfolio and agree to give him another post in the next government.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the anti-euro League have been emboldened by the president's dismissal of their government in favour of an unelected group of technocrats.

"All the conditions have been fulfilled for a political, Five Star and League government", said Matteo Salvini (the League leader) and Luigi Di Maio (leader of M5S), in a joint statement.

Mr Codogno said: "The initiative for a new anti-establishment government ... would have to imply a credible pro-European commitment and a commitment to the Italian Constitution, ie the fiscal framework, to have any chance of flying".

Opinion polls show Salvini's League would see huge gains in any early elections while the 5-Star would remain steady.

Conte's Cabinet was sworn in Friday after a last-minute deal averted the threat of a new election that had sent stock markets around the world tumbling.

"The immigration question is still hot, so I will ask all who are concerned with it how we can improve it", he said.

Lava advances, residents warned
Around 1:30 a.m., civil defense warned the lava could reach Beach Road near Four Corners within four to six hours. Whatever residents were left in the neighborhood were ordered out on Thursday by Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, center, is flanked by Roberto Fico, left, president of the Lower Chamber, and Rome's Mayor Virginia Raggi, on the occasion of celebrations for Italy's Republic Day, in Rome Saturday, June 2, 2018.

Italy's future in the euro zone has dominated the political uncertainty of the last week, with President Sergio Mattarella vetoing the coalition's original choice for economy minister, the eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona.

The scholar already served as advisor to Italy's Prime Minister for EU affairs and privatization of state-owned companies between 1993 and 1995, and as Minister of European Affairs between 2011-2013 and 2013-2014, according to his online resume.

Conte made no comment to reporters after his swearing-in ceremony in the president's 16th century palace in Rome, in a room with a huge gilt mirror flanked by Italian and European Union flags.

Salvini had earlier stressed that if his proposed cabinet was rejected - including the already vetoed economy minister - it would be better to go to new elections.

But in a surprise twist, the populists resurrected the coalition talks and Conte eventually accepted a new mandate for the premiership.

If President Mattarella decides to call snap elections - that would suit the two eurosceptic parties, the BBC's James Reynolds in Rome says.

"Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy", he said.

Mr Salvini has said he would "seriously consider" an offer on Wednesday from Mr Di Maio to resurrect their bid to govern together.

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