Italy’s president appoints new prime minister, blocking formation of a populist government

29 May 2018

Italy’s president appoints new prime minister, blocking formation of a populist government

Image credit: Sky News

A former International Monetary Fund (IMF) official, Carlo Cottarelli, has been appointed as Italy’s new prime minister amid outrage from the country’s populist parties.

President Sergio Mattarella summoned Mr Cottarelli to his official residence in Rome on Monday morning in the latest attempt to solve Italy’s political crisis.

Mr Cottarelli has accepted a mandate to form a technocratic and politically ‘neutral’ government before new elections can be held before the beginning of next year.

The decision comes after Mr Mattarella announced a momentous event on Sunday night, where he said he blocked the formation of a new coalition led by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right party, League Nord, by rejecting Paolo Savona, their Eurosceptic candidate for finance minister.

Mr Mattarella explained that he rejected Mr Savona on the grounds that his policies might drive Italy out of a single currency.

Five Star Movement and League Nord were on the verge of forming the first populist regime in western Europe before Mr Mattarella refused to accept Paolo Savona as the new economy minister, who has previously said that Italy needs a plan to quit the Euro “if necessary” and branded the EU’s single currency as a “German cage”.

The move has resulted in calls for impeachment of the President from populist parties.

Paolo Grimoldi, a senior League official in the northern region of Lombardy, has said that Mr Mattarella’s photograph should be removed from public offices.

“Italian democracy has been wounded to death,” Mr Grimoldi wrote on Facebook. “The League was ready to govern with its ministers to free the country from the chains that Brussels and Berlin have put on our ankles.”

Italy has continued to be without a government since indecisive elections on March 4, at which voters flocked to anti-establishment and far-right parties, leaving a hung parliament.

The recent developments could see Italy entering an early election, and with mass support for the populist parties, the possibility that Italy will exit the EU remains strong.