1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Who is Italy's Giuseppe Conte?

May 21, 2018

Italy's populist coalition has tapped an academic with no political experience to be the country's next prime minister. If confirmed, he could lead a big-spending, anti-establishment government. So who is Giuseppe Conte?

Giuseppe Conte
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Carconi

Largely unknown law professor Giuseppe Conte was chosen Monday by a far-right coalition of the 5-Star Movement (M5S) and League to lead Italy's government.

The 54-year-old, who is closely associated with M5S, has never been elected to parliament and is a relative newcomer to Italy's political scene.

Read more:  The populist odd couple preparing for government

Conte first entered the spotlight ahead of the March 4 election, when his name was put forward by M5S as a possible Minister of Public Administration in charge of cleaning up Italy's notoriously complex bureaucracy.

"First we have to drastically abolish useless laws," Conte said at the time.

Read moreItaly's M5S-League coalition is risky business

Italy's political uncertainty weighs on the economy

Career in academia

Born in 1964 in the village of Volturara Appula in Puglia, Conte studied law in Rome, before going on to study in Vienna, Paris, Cambridge and New York.

He is currently a professor of privacy law at Florence University, with previous teaching stints at Yale, Cambridge and the Sorbonne.

He also serves on the board of several academic bodies and has taken part in conferences on judicial issues hosted by M5S.

Read moreItaly between debt and utopian dreams

According to Italian media, Conte's WhatsApp account displays a photo of former US President John F. Kennedy, as well as one of his quotations: "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try."

He has also been quoted as saying that he used to vote for the left, but that "the ideologies of the 20th century are no longer adequate (for 21st century politics)."

M5S and the League named Conte as their prime minister pick following weeks of deadlock after inconclusive elections in March. The parties last week unveiled their joint agenda, including plans to cut taxes, boost welfare spending, expand migrant deportations and ease austerity.

If Conte's appointment is confirmed by President Sergio Mattarella, he will then present a list of cabinet members for the president's approval, and the government will be subject to confidence votes in both houses of parliament. 

nm/gsw (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.