Markets calm amid signs that Italy may avoid elections

Dwayne Harmon
June 3, 2018

Italy's populist coalition government was sworn in on Friday almost three months after an inconclusive March 4 general election.

In Rome's gilded Quirinale Palace, President Sergio Mattarella swore in 18 new ministers, including anti-establishment figures, right-wingers and politicians from former governments.

Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, who respectively head the 5-Star Movement and the League, are both deputy prime ministers in the new government.

The new government must now win confidence votes in parliament, expected to happen next week, Ansa news agency reported.

The law professor who has never before held political office was sworn in on Friday afternoon, ending nearly three months of political uncertainty and bringing to power a new populist government.

The leaders of Italy's right-wing League and the 5-Star Movement last night patched up their alliance after agreeing to substitute a eurosceptic they had initially proposed as economy minister and who had been rejected by the head of state.

Their pick for Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, abandoned his mandate to form a government on Sunday after Mattarella refused to allow Paolo Savona, an outspoken critic of the European Union, to take up the post of minister of economy.

A joint statement by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League had announced that political newcomer Giuseppe Conte, who had been seen as a controversial choice, would serve as prime minister.

Mattarella had triggered a fresh crisis at the weekend when he vetoed eurosceptic Paolo Savona as economy minister in a previously proposed Five Star-League government.

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"We are going to work hard to fulfil all of the political goals included in our government contract", the Prime Minister-appointed said in a short speech after the meeting.

Global markets reacted negatively, however, to Italy's continuing inconclusive political convolutions.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk has congratulated the new prime minister in a tweet.

Italy's famed aeronautic acrobatic squad has flown low and loud over downtown Rome trailing smoke in the red, white and green of the Italian flag as President Sergio Mattarella placed a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

The 81-year-old Savona remains part of the government, but as minister of European Union Affairs, while the economy portfolio will be in the hands of academic Giovanni Tria. Salvini has campaigned on the promise of mass deportations of migrants and said a new government would build detention centres around Italy.

Mattarella then tapped a former International Monetary Fund official to head a possible interim government of technocrats to see Italy through to an early election.

"The free ride is over", League leader Matteo Salvini, Italy's new interior minister, warned migrants at a rally in northern Italy.

"To affirm the principle of collaboration with countries in difficulty does not mean at all to be willing to leave the euro", the note said.

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