Italy's PM-designate says he will accompany country to new vote

European Union - Italy's Conte fights to form team as ally threatens new vote

Italy's president invited economist Carlo Cottarelli to the presidential palace on Monday amid speculation he would ask the former International Monetary Fund official to form a technical government following the collapse of what would have been Western Europe's first populist government.

The political novice's task was complicated by right-wing leader Matteo Salvini's insistence that the Cabinet include his pick for economy minister, a former government minister who has raised doubts about Italy keeping the euro as its official currency.

Conte gave up on the bid to form a government after President Sergio Mattarella vetoed his choice for economy minister.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella addresses the media after meeting Italy's premier-designate Giuseppe Conte in Rome, Sunday, May 27, 2018. "If you want to discuss it, it should have been done openly and with a serious debate", which he noted hadn't been part of the electoral campaign.

"Mattarella's choice delays risk but may lead to stronger populist sentiment at the next elections, which is worrisome", said Rosamaria Bitetti, lecturer in public policy at Rome's Luiss University. Support for the League, which won 17 percent of the vote in the March elections, is expected to grow - while 5-Star continues to enjoy backing of above 30%. "Then parliament would be dissolved with elections at the beginning of 2019", Cottarelli said shortly after being named interim prime minister.

Salvini, who was Savona's biggest advocate and a fellow eurosceptic, declared that Italy was not a "colony", and that "we won't have Germany tell us what to do".

Data last week showed German PMI data fell to a 20-month low in May indicating that economic momentum in Europe's biggest economy was faltering and European Central Bank minutes of its April meeting showed policymakers were anxious about a more pronounced slowdown in the eurozone and political uncertainty in Italy.

Federica Mogherini says she's convinced that President Sergio Mattarella was serving the Italian people and the European Union by forcing the end of the proposed 5-Star Movement-League government.

"In the absence of (parliament's) confidence, the government would resign immediately and its main function would be the management of ordinary affairs until elections are held after the month of August", Cottarelli added.

"However, it is far from certain that Mattarella's current move will end Italy's drama".

Article 90 of the Italian constitution foresees recourse to impeachment only in two cases: high treason and an attack on the constitution itself, which Di Maio has said could be invoked in the present case.

"I hope that we can give the floor to Italians as soon as possible, but first we need to clear things up". Some things can not be done in the throes of anger.

While a technocratic government would likely be approved by the centre-left Democratic Party and Forza Italia -the party run by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi - those two parties alone don't have enough votes.

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