Italian PM Keeps Job, Forms New Government By Phillip Howard
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is poised to keep his job, as both the far-right Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party agree to form a new government. The agreement comes a week after Conte previously announced his resignation, setting Italy on an unclear political course.
The formation of a new government also effectively ousted Matteo Salvini, the current foreign minister. Salvini repeatedly criticized Conte during his term as prime minister, and pushed for fresh elections, stating at the time that he felt as though he was a “free man” and that “those who fear Italians aren’t free men and women.”
Luigi Di Maio, the political leader of the Five Stars, said Salvini “pulled the plug” on an alliance between the two, and attempted to offer Di Maio the position of prime minister, which Di Maio turned down “with gratitude and sincerity.”
Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of the Democratic Party, also criticized Salvini for his previous role in Italian politics, saying that the new coalition formed intends “to put an end to the season of hatred, rancor and fear” that Salvini perpetrated for 14 months.
Conte received the green light to form a new government from Italian President Sergio Mattarella. His first priority is to draft a budget for 2020 that avoids a possible value-added tax hike. The VAT will rise unless the government can find 23 billion euros ($26 million USD) somewhere else.
“We must immediately get to work and draw up a budget to avert the VAT hike, protects savers, and offers solid prospects for economic growth and social development,” Conte said.
The announcement of Conte becoming prime minister garnered international recognition with it. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz praised Conte’s appointment, adding that he is “glad to see that the government crisis in Italy seems to have come to an end now and that a stable and new, progressive government can take the helm.”
President Trump also tweeted about his support for Conte, stating that he is “a very talented man who will hopefully remain Prime Minister.” Salvini, meanwhile, dismissed the alliance, stating that “the only thing they have in common is hatred against the League.”
Despite Conte being elected to a new term, there are still numerous criticisms of his past leadership that have yet to be addressed, including for antagonizing the European Union, Italy’s budgetary laws, demonizing migrants, and embracing the politics of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The new coalition still has a while to go until it can officially be formed, as both parties need to agree on a policy platform and who will be elected to cabinet positions within the Italian government.
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College