A standoff over Italy’s future in the eurozone has forced the resignation of the populist prime minister-in-waiting, Giuseppe Conte, after the country’s president refused to accept Conte’s controversial choice for finance minister. Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination for finance minister of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a “historic mistake”. “I have given up my mandate to form the government of change,” Conte told reporters after leaving failed talks with Mattarella. Italy has been without a government since elections on 4 March ended in a hung parliament.
Mattarella summoned a former official at the International Monetary Fund, Carlo Cottarelli – known as “Mr Scissors” for making cuts to public spending in Italy – to the presidential palace on Monday morning, which was interpreted as a sign that Cottarelli would be asked to form a government of unelected technocrats.
Mattarella is expected to ask Cottarelli to form a government, but he will struggle to gain the approval of parliament with the Five Star Movement(M5S) and the the far-right Lega (formerly the Northern League) commanding a majority in both houses.
Mattarella’s move could risk a constitutional crisis, and the country is now expected to go to the polls again in autumn.