A standoff over Italy’s future in the eurozone has forced the resignation of the populist prime minister-in-waiting, Giuseppe Conte, after the country’s president refused to accept Conte’s controversial choice for finance minister. Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination for finance minister of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a “historic mistake”. “I have given up my mandate to form the government of change,” Conte told reporters after leaving failed talks with Mattarella. Italy has been without a government since elections on 4 March ended in a hung parliament.
Articles about voting issues in the Italian Republic.
Italy’s president is likely on Wednesday to appoint a mediator to try to break a deadlock that has prevented the formation of a government since inconclusive elections six weeks ago, a source said, although no quick breakthrough is expected. President Sergio Mattarella will probably ask Maria Casellati, the speaker of the Senate, to hold more flexible, less formal talks than those he has already led, a source close to the president told Reuters. The European Union’s third-largest economy has been under a caretaker government since the March 4 polls, when anti-establishment and far-right parties were the big winners at the expense of more mainstream groups.
The leader of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement has ruled out joining a coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, a day before formal government consultations begin. Until now, Five Star had said it was ready to talk to all parties after the 4 March national election ended in a hung parliament. In an interview recorded by the La7 TV channel and not yet broadcast, Luigi Di Maio said Five Star was open to talks with the centre-left Democratic party (PD) – though not to its former secretary Matteo Renzi – and the far-right League, but not with Forza Italia, two Five Star sources said.
Italy: We still don’t know who will lead Italy. But one clear winner is the Kremlin. | The Washington Post
Italy’s Parliament convened Friday for the first time since anti-establishment forces shattered the old-line political system, and it remains unclear who will lead the country. But one victor is certain: the Kremlin. The populist Five Star Movement and the far-right League — the two parties most likely to bring together a ruling coalition — have called for a swift end to European sanctions against Russia. Both want to reorient the NATO defense alliance away from its increasingly robust stance in Eastern Europe, where it has stationed troops and tanks to defend against a possible conflict with the Kremlin. And both say Russia is a valuable partner in the global fight against terrorism in Syria and elsewhere.
Within Italy, the big winners in the March 4 elections were the two populist parties, who between them pulled in roughly 50 percent of the vote. The 5 Star Movement, which emphasizes the “drain the swamp” part of the populist message, was the leading party, with 32 percent of the vote for both chambers of the Italian parliament. The League, more akin to the anti-immigrant policies Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, pulled about 17 percent, easily topping the center-right Let’s Go Italy (Forza Italia) of Silvio Berlusconi, disappointed in his hopes of returning to the forefront of Italian politics. Outside Italy, though, the undisputed winner was Vladimir Putin. Steve Bannon, who was in Italy for the election, may spin Italian events, not without reason, as confirmation of a populist wave that hit the U.S. as well in 2016. But the strong and public Russian connections of Italy’s populist parties could have very concrete impacts on Italian policy going forward.
In Italy’s national elections on Sunday, Marco Minniti, Italy’s interior minister, a long-time spy chief and a member of the center-left Democratic Party, was soundly defeated in his parliamentary race by a candidate without a party. The winner was a man who had been kicked out of the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement because he admitted he’d broken a party rule and not tithed part of his salary back to the movement. The majority of the other ministers in the current government, a grand coalition of center-left and center-right led by the Democratic Party, also lost in direct contests, although they’ll enter parliament through a proportional system.
After voters from the snowy peaks of the Alps to the sunny shores of Sicily delivered a verdict so fractured and mysterious it could take months to sort out, the banner headline Monday in the venerable daily La Stampa captured the state of a nation that’s left no one in charge: “Ungovernable Italy.” The same can increasingly be said for vast stretches of Europe. Across the continent, a once-durable dichotomy is dissolving. Fueled by anger over immigration, a backlash against the European Union and resentment of an out-of-touch elite, anti-establishment parties are taking votes left, right and center from the traditional power players.
Italians registered their dismay with the European political establishment on Sunday, handing a majority of votes in a national election to hard-right and populist forces that ran a campaign fueled by anti-immigrant anger. The election, the first in five years, was widely seen as a bellwether of the strength of populists on the continent and how far they might advance into the mainstream. The answer was far, very far. After Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France beat back populist and far-right insurgencies in the past year, Europe had seemed to be enjoying a reprieve from the forces threatening its unity and values. That turned out to be short lived.
Like millions of young Italians, Elio Vagali confronts career options that range from minimal to nonexistent. At 29, he has cleaned homes, picked tangerines and lifted rocks — nearly always off the books, without the protections of a full-time contract. In a measure of his desperation, his dream employer is the dilapidated steel mill that dominates life in this fading city on the Ionian Sea. The complex has been blamed for a cancer cluster in the surrounding community. Yet to Mr. Vagali, it beckons like a portal to another life, one that means moving out of his parents’ apartment. Except the plant isn’t hiring. “You either know somebody, or you don’t get in,” he said bitterly. “There’s nothing here for me.” All of which helps explain why Mr. Vagali and much of the Italian electorate is either indifferent or contemptuous of the national election campaign that, on March 4, will determine who runs Europe’s fourth-largest economy.
He may potentially be the most powerful man in Italy, yet few people know who he is. Foreign ambassadors seek him out, even though he holds no public office. He claims to be but a simple member of a political movement, volunteering free technical assistance, but critics say he and his small Milan company control the votes, the candidates and the policies of the country’s leading party. As Italy faces critical national elections on Sunday, the media-shy internet entrepreneur, Davide Casaleggio, is the Wizard of Oz-like figure behind the tightly drawn curtain of the country’s front-running Five Star Movement as it approaches real political power.