Understanding Italy’s current state of affairs

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The British have this saying “It never rains. It pours”, and that was the case yesterday night as the drama surrounding the appointment of the New Italian government unfolded.

The situation has all the ingredients to be rightly deemed as an institutional crisis. However, this crisis isn’t just limited to Italy. The implications of what is happening and what will happen spreads over to the European continent and the institutions which govern it.

The following is an explainer of the salient points of what took place in the last 24 hours.

What happened? 

Italy’s efforts to form a government failed on Sunday after the president rejected Paolo Savona, a Eurosceptic candidate, for the Economy Ministry.  The appointed prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, gave up on his efforts to form a new government after the head of state refused to support the economist Paolo Savona, 81 years old and a critic of the euro and the European Union, for the key position of economy minister.

“I have accepted all the nominations, except for the Minister of Economy,” Mattarella said in a televised speech. “I asked for that ministry an authorised political figure of the parties of the coalition that was not seen as a supporter of a line that could cause the exit of Italy from the euro,” he added.

The reaction – Accusation of Treason, Request for Impeachment

The leaders of the North League and the 5 Stars Movement accused President Sergio Mattarella of betraying the Constitution and demanded that new elections be held as soon as possible. The leader of the 5 Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, even claimed that Mattarella should be challenged by Parliament for betraying the Constitution.

Evoking Democracy, Calls for Elections

The leader of the Northern League, Matteo Salvini, and Di Maio, head of the 5-Star Movement, responded angrily and said that the president was acting beyond the powers conferred by the Constitution. “In a democracy, if we are still in a democracy, there is only one thing to be done, to allow the Italians to decide,” Salvini said in an enthusiastic speech to supporters in central Italy. “I was informed of the request of the political parties to make an early election. I will evaluate the request in the next few hours and take an initiative, “said Mattarella.

Another attempt 

Mattarella called former International Monetary Fund member Carlo Cottarelli for a meeting on Monday, in a sign that he might be considering asking him to head a government of technocrats not elected by popular vote.

Why things are urgent? Why now? 

Cottarelli would be a choice that would calm the financial markets, which were disturbed by Savona’s criticism of the euro and Germany’s economic policy.

Implications 

A government led by Cottarelli would probably not last long, since most parliamentarians have said they would not endorse an administration of technocrats.

If it does not obtain the approval of the Parliament, it would remain in the position in provisional form until new elections are held, probably in September or October.

Sources Ansa, Rai, TgCom, Reuters, Corriere della Sera

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