Italy’s Political Deadlock Ends With Swearing-In of New Government

After three months of political deadlock following inconclusive March 4 elections, Italy has a new government. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a political novice, and his ministers were sworn in Friday. The government is backed by the populist 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League.

Markets breathed easier Friday after months of political wrangling ended. European stocks closed higher after Italian parties reached an agreement that led to the formation and swearing in of a new government, thereby averting the prospect of an early general election.

Conte has been dubbed “Mr. Nobody.” The 53-year old law professor took the oath of office along with his 18 ministers, five of them women. In the gilded Quirinale Palace, President Sergio Mattarella presided over the ceremony.

The new government coalition consists of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League. The two parties have a solid majority in both houses of parliament. Conte’s government will now seek confidence votes there early next week in order to be fully empowered.

Italy’s future in the eurozone has dominated the political uncertainty of the last week, with the head of state vetoing the coalition’s original choice for economy minister, Euroskeptic economist Paolo Savona. On Friday, Savona was sworn in as the new European affairs minister.

Mattarella’s rejection of Savona as economy minister led to the breakdown of the coalition’s first attempt to form a government. A technocratic government seemed the only solution until the leaders of the 5-Star Movement and the League decided to present a new lineup to the president, which was acceptable.

Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, who respectively head the 5-Star Movement and the League, are both deputy prime ministers in the new government. In addition, Di Maio will run the Labor Ministry and Salvini the Interior Ministry, two of the most important portfolios in Italy today.

Salvini said his first order of business as the country’s new interior minister would be to revamp the nation’s immigration policies. He wants to reduce the number of migrants arriving, increase the number of expulsions and cut the funds Italy spends tending to migrants.

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