Italy heads for populist government after months of stalemate

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Italy is advancing swiftly towards a populist government on its second try after 5-Star Movement and League leaders announced a compromise deal.

The leaders of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League announced a deal aimed at overcoming the president’s objections.

The premier-designate tapped at the beginning of the week to head an interim government of technocrats has stepped aside.

President Sergio Mattarella called a meeting with the populist’s pick: a law professor whose attempt to form a government failed four days ago.

Political neophyte Giuseppe Conte, who skipped teaching a class at the University of Florence to return to Rome, was summoned to meet Mattarella at the presidential palace Thursday night.

Carlo Cottarelli
Carlo Cottarelli stepped aside (Francesco Ammendola/Italian Presidency via AP)

Earlier in the day, the leader of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, and League leader Matteo Salvini canceled other engagements to meet at the parliament.

They issued a statement stating they had achieved “the conditions for a political government”.

In a Facebook message, Mr Salvini said it took “dedication, coherence, listening, patience, good sense, head and heart” to get a second chance while facing “many obstacles, attacks, threats and lies”.

Luigi Di Maio
5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP)

A political government would avoid an early election that investors worry would be seen as a referendum on the euro.

The 5-Stars and League together won a narrow majority in the March 4 election.

Matteo Salvini
The League leader Matteo Salvini (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP)GIUSEPPE LAMI

With Mr Salvini unwilling to consider a different economy minister, the League-5-Star lineup collapsed.

Mr Conte, whom the president had tapped as premier-designate before former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli, relinquished his mandate.

After the market tanked at the prospect of a Cottarelli-led technical government and early election, Mr Di Maio came back with a proposal to replace the contested ministerial candidate, while Mr Salvini said he was not closing any doors.

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