Published: Mon, May 28, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Populist fury after Italian president scuppers new government

Populist fury after Italian president scuppers new government

Conte said he tried his hardest to form a government and had full cooperation from would-be coalition partners, the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and League parties.

5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio said Mattarella's rejection of Savona was "unacceptable".

That has prompted concern over the proposed coalition's commitment to the European Union and its ability to rein in the country's massive national debt - equal to 1.3 times its annual output.

The 81-year-old billionaire former prime minister released a statement on Sunday in which he praised Mattarella's efforts to "safeguard this country's families and businesses".

In televised remarks to the nation, Mattarella explained that he could not approve of a finance minister who would "probably or nearly certainly bring about Italy's exit from the eurozone".

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"I ask myself, are we a democracy?"

Following the collapsed talks, Mattarella has summoned Carlo Cottarelli, former director of the International Monetary Fund's fiscal affairs department, for talks on Monday, with a temporary technical government now looking inevitable as Italy faces the strong possibility of new elections in the autumn. Instead, he said, the powers-that-be didn't like his choice for economics minister so they pulled the plug.

On Saturday, the far-right League party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement stuck by Savona, challenging Mattarella to accept him or risk another election later this year. "Especially the League may frame a new election as a de facto referendum on Italy's role in Europe". We'll change this Country, together.

The leaders of the two populist parties were furious over the Mattarella veto. Polls in Italy since indicate that the parties' support has held steady or grown.

"We will ask parliament to charge Mattarella with high-treason because he has acted under foreign pressure", Brothers of Italy chief Giorgia Meloni said on La7 television channel.

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The 5-Star's Di Maio demanded impeachment under article 90 of the constitution. If a simple majority votes in favour, the constitutional court would then be called to decide whether to impeach or not.

In a statement, Mogherini said that "I have full trust, as I believe all Italians have in the Italian institutions, starting with the Italian president".

The Milan stock exchange building is seen in downtown Milan March 18, 2013.

The chance that the new government will weaken public finances and roll back a 2011 pension reform prompted Moody's to say - after markets had closed on Friday - that it may downgrade the country's sovereign debt rating.

Markets have largely welcomed Mattarella's decision to nix Paolo Savona as economy minister.

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"The market seems to cheer the news, but I don't share the idea that a caretaker government is that reassuring", Stephane Ekolo, equity strategist at TFS Derivatives, says by phone.

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