Populist Italian parties fail to form government, call for President Mattarella to be impeached

Italy has recently found itself in the verge of constitutional crisis after Luigi di Magio, leader of the populist 5-star Movement party, called for the impeachment of president Sergio Mattarella.

This request comes after Mattarella’s rejection of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old euroskeptic economist, for the position of economy minister. Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s populist party  The Leage, had been pressuring Mattarella to pick Savona for the position, since his inclusion would represent the formation of Europe’s first fully populist government. After rejecting the proposition, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who had been selected by the two parties as the lead for their coalition institution, dropped the government-related project and resigned from his position. Mattarella has made an unprecedented decision in recent Italian history, since it creates a divide between him and the populist parties, despite having to be supposedly neutral.

Savona has been known for his public criticism about the country’s decision to enter the Eurozone, two decades ago. When discussing his decision on Sunday, Mattarella stressed his right and responsibility of creating a solid cabinet, and that picking Savona would’ve been ultimately damaging to the Italian economy and its financial markets. He also stated that the two party leaders had been taken into consideration during the decision-making process and always showed himself open to negotiation. He stated: “I asked for that ministry an authoritative political figure from the coalition parties who was not seen as the supporter of a line that could provoke Italy’s exit from the euro”.

Economists and finance experts had shown their skepticism towards the formation of a populist government administrating Italy, since this would represent more spending for the country and increase it’s debt, which is already more than 130% of the country’s income. The project had also raised concerns for the country’s partners in the European Union, since some of the parties’ propositions included sanctioning Russia, which would raise conflict.

The decision for both parties to join forces was made following the elections in March 4, which were unsuccessful for both of them. However, the parties’ leaders chose to vote against each other for the position of Prime Minister. Their decision for picking Conte as the leader of their new party came with controversy, since he was seen as someone who would merely follow Di Maio and Salvini’s orders. His public reputation got even worse after claims that he had filled his CV with false credentials as a researcher in several universities, probably taking advantage of his position as a stranger and a newcomer to politics. After meeting with Mattarella, Conte reportedly stated “I have given up my mandate to form the government of change”.

Following Mattarella’s decision, the two leaders were shown to be infuriated, with Salvini stating that “We are not a free country, we have limited sovereignty” and Di Magio stating, during a late night talk show, his intentions of accusing the president with claims of high treason. They also stated their belief that Germany had influenced the president’s verdict, and that financial lobbies were involved as well. Di Magio has also stated that “In this country, you can be a condemned criminal, a tax fraud convict, under investigation for corruption and be a minister … but if you criticise Europe, you cannot be an economy minister,” and that he is eager to “give the floor” to the Italian people after Mattarella’s impeachment.

Mattarella has reportedly met with former former International Monetary Fund senior official Carlo Cottarelli, with beliefs that he may be leaning towards the creation of a technocracy. Cottarelli, known for often cutting public spending in Italy (hence his nickname of “Mr. Scissors”),  is expected to be ordered by Mattarella to form a government, which could turn out to be quite difficult since the Five Star Movement constitutes a significant part of the Parliament.

 

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