Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella has appointed former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli as interim prime minster despite demands for him to be impeached.
Cottarelli accepted the mandate with reservation amid an unprecedented institutional crisis.
This follows the collapse of a the previous effort to form a 5-Star Movement/League government led by law professor Giuseppe Conte, when Mattarella refused to approve the nomination of Eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona as economy minister, citing the risk of financial turbulence.
This prompted a furious reaction from League leader Matteo Salvini, who accused the president of representing the interests of other states instead of Italy, and M5S leader Luigi Di Maio, who has called for the head of State’s impeachment.
Cottarelli said Mattarella has asked him to try and form an interim government to govern Italy until elections in early 2019. “I will present a programme that, in the case in which the executive wins a confidence vote, includes the approval of the budget law and then the dissolution of parliament and elections in 2019.”
He added that, if his government does not win parliament’s confidence, as appears likely, elections will be held after August. “The government would maintain complete neutrality with respect to the election debate.” Cottarelli said. “I commit myself to not standing and I’ll ask the same commitment from all the members of a future government”. Italy has been in the hands of Premier Paolo Gentiloni’s outgoing executive since the inconclusive March 4 election.
The chances of a Cottarelli-led executive winning a confidence vote look slim. The M5S and the League are certain to vote no, as is the rightwing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, which has also called for Mattarella’s impeachment.
A spokesman for Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia said it will vote against too, which leaves the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) as the only big party to say it would back Cottarelli.