European Union - Italy's Conte fights to form team as ally threatens new vote

He has as much to gain from a new election as the League, which has seen its popularity only rise in the weeks since the March 4 election resulted in a hung parliament.

Last week, they agreed on a political unknown, lawyer Giuseppe Conte, as their pick to head their coalition government, although he has no political experience whatsoever. Italian president Sergio Mattarella approved Conte as PM, but the stumbling block came when the latter nominated a fierce eurosceptic as finance minister.

Mattarella is staunchly pro-Europe.

During recent days, Italian bonds have slumped, raising the country's borrowing costs, and Mattarella said this represented "concrete risks for the savings of our fellow citizens and of Italian families".

If, as expected, he fails to win parliamentary backing, Cottarelli would simply ferry Italy to elections that would most likely be held in September or October.

The leaders of Five Star and the League, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, were infuriated by Mattarella's refusal to accept Savona, a respected financier and economist.


Di Maio asked what was the point of voting "if ratings agencies" make the decisions.

Assembling a Cabinet acceptable to both Mattarella and the populist partners foundered on League leader Matteo Salvini's insistence on a euroskeptic economy minister. Macron phoned him on Saturday to wish him "the best for the government that is about to be formed", Conte said in a Facebook post.

"Above all, it shocks me with what kind of vehemence it's being spread in the media that Germany and the euro are responsible for the misery", Issing said.

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

Di Maio met Mattarella informally on Sunday to try to find a solution, a source close to the president said.

"The problem is Savona", the coalition source said, explaining that the economist had not sufficiently softened some of his more eurosceptic positions.


On Sunday, Mr Savona had tried to allay concerns about his views in his first public statement on the matter.

Mr Savona, who served as industry minister during the 1990s, has been an outspoken critic of the European Union and an opponent of austerity programmes.

In an interview with Radio Capital on Monday, Salvini wondered aloud who would vote for him.

Mattarella said he had accepted every proposed minister except Savona, who has called the euro a "German cage" and said that Italy needs a plan to leave the single currency "if necessary".

While Conte held his final talks with the president, Salvini was telling right-wing supporters he had refused to submit to a presidential veto of his choice for economy minister, Paolo Savona.

Mattarella told reporters that it's important for confidence in broader financial markets that Italy signals its intentions to remain part of the euro.


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