Italy government: Giuseppe Conte again asked to be PM

Italy government: Giuseppe Conte again asked to be PM

Italian President Sergio Mattarella asked Conte to form a new government on Thursday evening.

The ministers feature a mix of 5-Star and League loyalists and a political neophyte in the form of Premier Giuseppe Conte, who was still teaching his law classes at the university in Florence up until Thursday.

Just forty-eight hours ago Italy had looked to be on course for snap elections after coalition talks between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League collapsed over the weekend.

Although investors were relieved to avoid repeat elections, which they feared could have become a de facto referendum on the euro, they are now likely to refocus on the big spending plans of the League and 5-Star, which would add to its debts.

It was a reference to European Union officials, who have made clear in recent days their concerns - in occasionally undiplomatic terms - about the euroskeptic direction of Europe's third-largest economy.

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.

In the gilded Quirinale Palace, President Sergio Mattarella presided over the ceremony Friday in which 18 ministers - five of them women - were taking the oath of office to officially form a government coalition of the 5-Star Movement and the League party after three months of political deadlock.

Stunning win still in England's sights: Jos Buttler
Their dismissals left England 37 for two at lunch, still needing another 142 to make a rampant Pakistan bat again. A nine-wicket loss came after a winter when they did not win in seven Tests in Australia and New Zealand.

After the fits, starts and financial turbulence of recent days, the realization of a 5-Star-League coalition government put its populist posture on full display in Salvini's first public remarks. Italy has never before had a July election: the timing, during the traditional summer holiday season, could affect turnout significantly, and the short notice might cause problems for Italian voters living overseas. "It's the latest slap in the face from the powers-that-be that says Italy should be a slave, scared and precarious", League leader Matteo Salvini charged.

Andreeva said: "There are words and there are facts and we prefer to focus on the facts, which in this case speak much louder than words".

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. But don't play this game of loading with responsibility the EU.

In the end, the populist parties made a decision to back down and accept the president's veto of their original choice of a eurosceptic economy minister. He presented Mattarella with a revised list of ministers - with Savona moved to EU Affairs - that the head of state quickly accepted.

Mr Mattarella even took the step of appointing former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli as an interim prime minister until a re-election.

Meanwhile, M5S chief Luigi Di Maio called on party supporters to attend a rally in Rome on Saturday, the anniversary of Italy's transformation into a republic in 1946, after what he called "Italian democracy's darkest night".

Lorne Cook and Raf Casert contributed from Brussels, and Angela Charlton from Paris.

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