NEWS » Italy's 66th government since the end of WW2?

Italy's 66th government since the end of WW2?

Will Italy succeed in forming its 66th government since the end of the second world war? the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement were almost on the way to forming a coalition led by the newly appointed prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who was in charge of putting together the full list of names that would have formed his cabinet. On the contrary, he has formally rejected a mandate to form a new government. This happened after his choice of Paolo Savona as Economy Minister was vetoed by President Sergio Mattarella. Paolo Savona is an 81-year-old former industry minister who opposed the signing of the Maastricht treaty and is a fierce anti-Europe supporter. Mattarella refused to approve Conte’s choice in order to avoid alarming Italian and foreign markets and investors.

A technocrat might be now appointed as prime minister by Mattarella to guide the country towards fresh elections. However, the electoral scene is not likely to provide new options and Italy might be back to stalemate again. 

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League share their populist and anti-Europe vocation but disagree on some most important issues.

Will Italy be set on a collision course with the EU? There were worrying signs of this in the coalition contract which envisaged an 18-month limit for the asylum process, the detention of irregular migrants, and the repatriation of half a million people to their countries of origin. Most of these provisions are in violation of EU law. Moreover, the increase in public spending promised by M5S combined with the tax cuts favoured by the League might prove to be unrealistic.

Most foreign commentators thought that the cost of the coalition’s promises: lower taxes, higher benefits, earlier retirement could have reached about 10% of Italy’s GDP. This would have added to the country’s €2.1trn debt in the Eurozone’s third-biggest economy having the potential to trigger off a Greek-style debt crisis.

However, many Italian analysts are sceptical that a breakup with Europe is inevitable, or even particularly likely. They pointed out that the government contract was vaguely worded and amounted to little more than a manifesto.  

The leaders of the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, accused President Sergio Mattarella of abusing his authority and of working under the orders of European powers. 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio demanded that parliament impeach Mattarella.

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