Italy populists name PM candidate

Italy populists name PM candidate

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ROME: Law professor Giuseppe Conte has been named as the choice of the Five Star Movement and League to lead the coalition government.

The leaders of the two parties have been holding talks with President Sergio Mattarella over the approval of their coalition government.

The Five Star’s Luigi di Maio has said that Mr Mattarella had been informed that Mr Conte was the agreed candidate.

The two populist parties issued their joint coalition plans last week.

They both reject EU austerity and want to renegotiate Italy’s debt, and their spending proposals put Italy on a collision course with the EU.

The coalition pledges, agreed after days of talks between Mr Di Maio and the League’s Matteo Salvini, include new “flat tax” rates and a guaranteed basic income for the poor.

Their expensive economic plans could prompt a clash with the EU if they defy the previous government’s agreements to reduce Italy’s budget deficit.

Over the weekend, Mr Salvini rejected a call by French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire for Italy to respect its EU budget commitments.

“We will do the opposite of what preceding governments have done. Am I wrong?” he tweeted.

On Monday, European Central Bank council member Ewald Nowotny said the proposed policy changes were creating “nervousness”, adding: “I hope that the practice will be a much wiser approach than what is here today from the newspapers.”

Both parties have called for a renegotiation of EU fiscal rules and Mr Salvini has in the past condemned the introduction of the euro as an error.

Mr Conte, 54, is a professor who teaches private law in Florence and Rome. He is not an MP and is a complete unknown in politics.

He is seen as a compromise candidate who will come across as palatable to Italy at large, and hard for the president to turn down.

However, he has strong ideas about how Italy should be run and is seen as close to Luigi Di Maio of Five Star.

He has called for hundreds of “useless laws” to be abolished and believes that the ideologies of the 20th Century are out of date.

Mr Conte was Five Star’s preferred choice and was already the figure they wanted for another government role.

The parties needed to reach an agreement on their prime ministerial candidate with Mr Mattarella before seeking approval from parliament.__BBC

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