Ex-IMF official Carlo Cottarelli asked to be Italy's new prime minister

28 May, 2018, 14:18 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Italian President Sergio Mattarella

For anyone wondering how the Italian president, usually seen as acting as a figurehead, was able to veto a minister backed by most parliamentarians, here's an explainer of how much power the president has in these situations.

Italy's would-be coalition parties turned up the pressure on President Sergio Mattarella on Saturday to endorse their eurosceptic pick as economy minister, saying the only other option may be a new election.

After the meeting, Mattarella said he refused to approve Conte's candidate to the Economy Ministry, 81-year-old economist Paolo Savona, since his anti-euro stance would have "alarmed markets and investors, Italians and foreigners".

Germany's deputy foreign minister says he hopes there will be a "stable, pro-European" government in Italy soon, but has acknowledged that his country is in no position to offer advice after its own long-drawn-out effort to form a new administration.

"The uncertainty over our position has alarmed investors and savers both in Italy and overseas", Mattarella said, adding: "Membership of the euro is a fundamental choice".

Carlo Cottarelli would be a calming choice for the financial markets.

Italy has been without a government since elections on 4 March, at which voters flocked to anti-establishment and far-right parties.

After the coalition's collapse, Italian bonds, stocks and the euro rallied.

The election last March did not deliver a clear victor, and although Cinque Stelle emerged as the largest single party, it was forced to seek a coalition partner.

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Luigi Di Maio of the populist Five Star Party said President Sergio Mattarella had caused an "institutional crisis". Savona has had high-level experience at the Bank of Italy, in government as industry minister in 1993-94, and with employers' lobby Confindustria.

"I agreed to all the ministers except the finance minister", Mattarella told reporters at the presidential palace in Rome.

The Five Star/League coalition has a majority in both houses of parliament.

Shortly afterwards, the president's office summoned Cottarelli, the IMF's former director of fiscal affairs, for a meeting on Monday.

The elections are expected to go ahead in the fall-already, this is the longest time since the Second World War that Italy has gone without a government. The current purely proportional system produced a hung parliament two months ago, and polls suggest it could happen again. The Democratic Party won about 20 percent of the vote. "Salvini did not want to govern: he made unachievable promises, he is afraid of his lies", Renzi, who quit as PD leader after its poor showing in the March general election, said via Twitter.

Under that article, the president would be voted on "for high treason or attacking the constitution" by all members of parliament.

If the vote is in favour, the country's constitutional court then decides whether to impeach or not.

"We need to keep cool".

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