Italian PM-designate Conte fails to form new government

Italian President Sergio Mattarella addresses the media after meeting Italy's premier-designate Giuseppe Conte in Rome on Sunday

Italian President Sergio Mattarella addresses the media after meeting Italy's premier-designate Giuseppe Conte in Rome on Sunday

Italy's novice premier-designate Giuseppe Conte struggled to form a populist government throughout the weekend, stranded between a president who objects to a eurosceptic candidate for the economy ministry and a coalition ally threatening to force early elections.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement said it was considering proposing impeachment of President Sergio Mattarella after his veto, while anti-immigrant League leader Matteo Salvini hinted at a conspiracy and made a thinly veiled call for fresh elections.

Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister-designate, has abandoned his mandate to form a new government, the presidential palace has said.

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the populist Five Star Party, has called for the Italian president to be impeached after he vetoed a choice for finance minister.

10 2008 shows the 81 hold economist Paolo Savona looking on during a meeting in Rome. Paolo Savona chosen by the Italian populists to be the new finance minister is an eurosceptic economist very critical of Germany who made

"Keep calm and solidarity with President Mattarella", Paolo Gentiloni, who remains Italy's prime minister, posted on Twitter.

A former judge of Italy's constitutional court, Mattarella has refused to bow to what he saw as "diktats" from the two parties which he considered contrary to the country's interests. Although mainly ceremonial, the president does have the power to appoint heads of government and dissolve parliament.

The choice of Cottarelli, known for his strict approach to state finances, is set to further inflame Italy's bitter political divisions after populist leaders slammed the president for the collapse of their planned government and sought to extend the blame to the European Union.

Cottarelli said in such a case, the government's principal job "would be the ordinary administration of government and to accompany the country to elections after the month of August". Mattarella is staunchly pro-Europe.

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Five Star and League parties have said they will support earlier elections, and electoral polls indicate they would garner even more votes a second time around.

"Looking further ahead, it is hard to see how Italy can emerge from the ongoing political-institutional crisis in a better place politically", he said.

Last week, it looked as if Italy was finally about to get a new government after nearly three months of political deadlock following inconclusive elections back in March.

Mattarella ultimately refused to back the so-called "euroskeptic" for the economy portfolio. On Friday, Moody's put Italy's credit rating on review for a possible downgrade citing risks to its fiscal strength from the government plan put forward by Di Maio and Salvini.

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Mattarella has summoned Carlo Cottarelli, an economist formerly with the International Monetary Fund, for talks Monday, with a temporary technocrat government on the table as Italy faces the strong possibility of new elections in the autumn.

Mr Savona, a former industry minister, has questioned whether Italy should ditch the euro as its currency. He is meeting Mr Cottarelli this morning, an official said.

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