Political novice Giuseppe Conte sworn in as Italy′s new PM | News | DW | 01.06.2018
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Political novice Giuseppe Conte sworn in as Italy's new PM

Giuseppe Conte is a 53-year-old jurist who has never been elected to parliament. Populist leaders Salvini and Di Maio will be joint deputy prime ministers.

Giuseppe Conte (above right) was sworn in as Italy's 58th prime minister on Friday, ending weeks of political turmoil that rocked financial markets and prompted concerns from the country's European Union partners.

Italy has been without a government since elections on March 4 failed to produce a clear winner. The far-right Lega (League), formerly Lega Nord, and the anti-establishment, populist Five Star Movement (M5S), despite being diametrically opposed on some issues, have been trying to cobble together a government after M5S was unable to do so with the Democratic Party (DP).

Despite decrying Italy's long history of installing unelected technocrats, the parties suggested Conte as prime minister. Conte is a jurist whose only political experience is being elected to the Bureau of Administrative Justice by the lower-house Chamber of Deputies.

President Sergio Mattarella (above left) initially refused to approve Conte's government last weekend. He rejected the inclusion of the ardently anti-euro Paolo Savona as economy minister. With Savona replaced by Giovanni Tria, an economics professor who has never advocated leaving the eurozone, Mattarella finally gave his approval on Thursday.

Lega leader Matteo Salvini will become deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, while M5S chief Luigi Di Maio will jointly be deputy prime minister and take over the economic development portfolio.

Salvini has a long history of making controversial statements, particularly about immigrants in his native Milan, and has called the euro a "crime against humanity." Although M5S holds some far-left positions, Di Maio has also come under fire for his anti-immigration rhetoric, including calling rescue missions to save migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean a "sea-taxi service."

Cautious congratulations

European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated Conte, but warned the incoming populists that the EU needed "unity and solidarity more than ever."

"I strongly believe that our community will only flourish when based on respectful dialogue and loyal cooperation, which I will do my best to ensure," he added.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU would "be at Italy's side on its reform path," and would welcome any proposals the new government might have on reforming the bloc.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also congratulated Conte, saying t "I look forward to continuing our close partnership and
strengthening it further."

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