Italian president asks technocrat to form government

Italian President Sergio Mattarella (pictured) has given new mandate to former IMF official Carlo Cottarelli to form government after Prime minister-designate Giuseppe Conte stepped down on Sunday.

Cottarelli, noted economist, will try to form an interim government, pass the budget and take steps for fresh elections early next year.

If Cottarelli’s interim government does not get parliamentary backing, he will immediately resign and elections will be held in October or November.

Italy was heading towards an uncertain path as it had no government nearly three months after elections and efforts to form one was blocked on Sunday by Mattarella.

He rejected the choice of a eurosceptic, Paolo Savona, as finance minister, Conte, a political novice, stepped down as his efforts to form a coalition government of populist Five Star Party (M5S) and right-wing Lega collapsed.

Luigi Di Maio, M5S leader, and Matteo Salvini, Lega head, called for early elections after impeaching the president. They described the president’s rejection of eurosceptic Savona’s nomination as unconstitutional.

Italy can have a tainted individual as minister but if someone criticises Europe, he cannot be an economy minister, Salvini said at a rally.

Mattarella said he wanted a finance minister who would ensure his country’s financial security and future and not one who would force Italy to leave the euro.

M5S and Lega want to exit the euro zone. They favour a strong Europe of equals, not one dominated by Germany.

The president said he would review their demand for fresh elections and take a decision shortly.