Conte to be given a mandate to form government

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Following days of often tense and difficult talks, the leaders of 5-Star and the PD told Italy’s president that the new government should once again be led by the outgoing prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

The two sides still need to agree on a shared policy platform and team of ministers, but 5-Star chief Luigi Di Maio and his PD counterpart Nicola Zingaretti said they had pledged to find common ground for the good of the country.

“We love Italy and we consider it worthwhile to try this experience,” Zingaretti told reporters. Speaking shortly afterwards, Di Maio said: “We made commitments to the Italians…and come what may we want to fulfil them.”

President Sergio Mattarella summoned Conte for talks on Thursday at 9.30 a.m. (0730 GMT), and was widely expected to hand him a fresh mandate.

As such, Italy’s acting prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, on Thursday, will be tasked with forming a government supported by the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party, two long-time rivals who have little more in common than the desire to avoid snap elections.

The only glue to hold them together will be “hatred for the League,” according to League leader Matteo Salvini. Indeed, their unlikely alliance was spurred by the need to avoid an electoral drubbing from the League after Salvini brought down the previous coalition.

Salvini, given his commanding lead in the polls, was counting on a snap vote to take power himself. Instead, President Sergio Mattarella is due to give Conte a mandate for form another government at meeting 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Bloomberg reports that Conte had no political experience before he was drafted in 15 months ago to act as mediator between Five Star and the League. Detractors dubbed him “Mr Nobody,” but Conte gradually established a role for himself, despite having no political base of his own. Drawing on his background as a lawyer, he held cabinet meetings late into the evening, grinding down Salvini and Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio until they were tired enough to set aside their differences and compromise.

The next coalition will also be built on brittle foundations. The PD is the party of the center-left establishment and provided three of the past four prime ministers. The Five Star Movement grew up in opposition to that same establishment and surged to prominence vowing to do away with the bad old ways in Italy that saw it’s debt mounting as the economy fell further and further behind its European partners’.

Before he can even take office, Conte has to iron out the final details of a coalition agreement.

The Democrats continue to object to Di Maio’s demand to stay on as deputy prime minister. They argue that Conte is essentially a Five Star figure and the party shouldn’t have the government’s top two jobs.

Conte does at least have the support of investors, who have pushed Italian yields to record lows as his prospects of a return increased.

He has also gathered the confidence of some fellow world leaders. President Donald Trump openly endorsed him for a second term after they chatted at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France last weekend. Even detractors acknowledge that he has deftly managed negotiations with the European Commission, twice avoiding sanctions over Italy’s excessive debt.

Via Bloomberg / Reuters / Corriere Della Sera / TgCom 

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