Italy’s New Prime Minister, Conte Begins Work


After weeks of political drama that at one stage seemed certain to lead to new elections, President Sergio Mattarella named Conte, a political novice, as prime minister for the second time in less than a fortnight and approved his revised cabinet. He was confronted by a group of laid-off workers protesting outside Parliament.

In an unscripted blast from the parade route, Conte insisted Italy wasn't alone in facing cases of corruption and declared that "we all have to work for legality".

Italy's new anti-establishment government was installed yesterday, calming markets spooked by the possibility of snap elections that might have become a de facto referendum on quitting the euro.

The coalition will be headed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a popular but untested political figure who was rejected by President Sergio Mattarella just days ago. "They need to be more quiet and do more".

In another development, far-right Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni signalled she would support a populist government, reversing her previous position and giving the potential administration more breathing room to pass confidence votes in parliament.

Mr Tria has been critical of the EU's economic governance, but unlike Mr Savona he has not advocated a contingency plan for exiting the euro. "Gotta stay strong, or the bully boys will be after you", he warned.

Meanwhile, Conte, the new prime minister, remains relatively unknown. In Italy, opposition politicians see the new government contract as "dangerous" and "illusionist".

He urged Italy not to "play this game" of holding the European Union responsible, adding "Nations first, Europe second".

What does this say about the health of the euro, the eurozone and the European Union?

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His comments sparked outrage in Italy, with Salvini blasting them as "racist" in his victory speech Thursday in northern Lombardy.

"We will work intensely to realize the political goals of our agreement, and we will work with determination to improve the lives of all Italians", Conte said after reading the list of confirmed ministers. Salvini has campaigned on the promise of mass deportations of migrants and said a new government would build detention centres around Italy.

The political conditions to form a political government were found after Lega and M5S opted to move the controversial Prof Savona to the European Affairs Ministry.

Three months of political deadlock ended as western Europe's first populist government took charge in Italy, prompting cheers from the continent's leading Eurosceptics and a surge in the Milan stock market.

After the initial attempt to form a government failed, Mattarella picked Carlo Cottarelli as interim prime minister.

Italian press reports indicated that the populist leaders had stepped back from their insistence that Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old eurosceptic, serve as finance minister.

Salvini, the bombastic and xenophobic leader of the League, who rose in politics in recent years on the back of incendiary and racist statements about migrants and Roma, is expected to take on the role of interior minister.

The celebrations coincided with Italy's Republic Day, which marks the founding of the Italian republic.