Populist academic Giuseppe Conte given mandate to form Italian government | News | DW | 23.05.2018
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Populist academic Giuseppe Conte given mandate to form Italian government

Italian law professor Giuseppe Conte from the populist 5-Star movement has been tasked with forming a new government in Rome. Conte pledged to be "defense lawyer of the Italian people."

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President approves Italy's Conte as new PM: DW's Bernd Riegert

Italy's President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday gave little-known legal scholar Giuseppe Conte a mandate to form the next cabinet. With the combined support of Conte's populist 5-star movement and their allies from the far-right League party in Italy's parliament, Conte is likely to win the post of prime minister next week.

Accepting the nomination, Conte said he was "aware of the need to confirm Italy's European and international standing." A euroskeptic 5-Star government could present Brussels with its greatest challenge since Brexit. 

"I'm preparing myself now to defend the interests of all Italians in all places, in Europe and internationally," he told reporters. "I will be the defense lawyer of the Italian people."

Conte has to draft a list of cabinet ministers for presidential approval before they can take office, possibly by the end of next week.

Conte added he was committed to working with European and international allies.

The 53-year-old lawyer has never held public office.

Read more: Who is Italy's candidate for prime minister, Giuseppe Conte?

Changes in Italy spark concern

Some European officials have already sounded the alarm over a government led by Conte and supported by the laboriously negotiated alliance between the 5-Star movement and the League. The coalition has called for Italy to change its relations with the EU and announced plans to increase government spending in the country burdened by debt. On Sunday, France urged Italy to respect its financial commitments to the EU.

"Everyone in Italy must understand that Italy's future is in Europe and nowhere else, and if this future is to be in Europe, there are rules that must be respected," French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

Conte himself also faced accusations that he had padded his resume, listing reputable international universities, such as in New York, where he never studied or held a teaching post.

He is expected to present his outline for the new government ahead of the parliamentary vote.

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dj/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)

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