Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Italy in turmoil as PM yet to name government

Italy’s caretaker prime minister is expected to unveil his cabinet line up on Wednesday in a bid to end the chaos that has raised fears for the stability of eurozone after the populist coalition’s bid to govern collapsed.

Carlo Cottarelli had promised to deliver the list “as soon as possible” but the economist discreetly left the presidential palace after a brief meeting with President Sergio Mattarella Tuesday afternoon without making any statement.

Shortly afterwards Giovanni Grasso, a spokesman for the president said Cottarelli “has informed the head of state of the situation and… both will meet again on Wednesday morning.” Mattarella on Sunday blocked a cabinet proposed by the anti-immigrant League and their allies in the Five Star Movement (M5S).

Mattarella vetoed the League-Five Star pick for economy minister, eurosceptic Paolo Savona. The populists cried foul and abandoned their joint bid for power.

That left Cottarelli, a former IMF economist known as “Mr Scissors”, tasked with naming a technocrat government.

On Tuesday, Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio called for a return to the polls “as soon as possible”. Italian media said the elections could be scheduled for as early as July. The uncertainty in the country and the fear that the Five Star Movement and the eurosceptic League could win even more votes if a fresh vote is held appeared to spook the financial markets.

League leader Matteo Salvini, a fellow eurosceptic who was Savona’s biggest advocate, said his side’s joint plan for a government failed because of pressure from the “powers-that-be, the markets, Berlin and Paris”.

“It was a big mistake to say no to a government which had a majority, a programme and a list of ministers,” said Salvini. He added that the future elections would be a vote pitting “people and real life against the political old guard.”

Salvini and Di Maio furiously denounced the presidential veto, blasting what they called meddling by Germany, debt ratings agencies, financial lobbies and even alleging lies from Mattarella’s staff.

“Paolo Savona would not have taken us out of the euro. It’s a lie invented by Mattarella’s advisors,” Di Maio said in a live video on Facebook. “The truth is that they don’t want us in government.” Elections could benefit Salvini, however, as recent polling by IndexResearch put the League at 22 per cent, five points up from its vote share in the March 4 ballot.

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