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Populist Euro-skeptic coalition agreed in Italy; panic in Brussels

Tuesday, May 22nd 2018 - 07:12 UTC
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The Five Star's Luigi di Maio (L) said that president Mattarella had been informed that Giuseppe Conte (R) was the agreed candidate The Five Star's Luigi di Maio (L) said that president Mattarella had been informed that Giuseppe Conte (R) was the agreed candidate

Law professor Giuseppe Conte has been named as the choice of the Five Star Movement and League to lead the Italian 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 president 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.

Giuseppe 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.

Conte has called for hundreds of ”useless laws“ to be abolished and believes that the ideologies of the 20th Century are out of date. He 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 president Mattarella before seeking approval from parliament.

The populist parties anti-austerity coalition manifesto includes Guaranteed income: poor families will get a €780 basic monthly income, provided recipients actively seek work; mass deportations, an estimated 500,000 undocumented migrants in Italy must be deported ”as a priority“; new tax rates, a ”flat tax“ will be introduced to reduce income tax rates to just two brackets, set at 15% and 20%, while families would receive a €3,000 annual tax deduction based on household income; Italy's debt, revision to the EU's Stability and Growth Pact, which sets a tough budget deficit limit of 3% of GDP, and a plan to reduce debt through ”internal demand” instead of austerity; pensions' reform, setting the minimum monthly pension at €780, with a plan to abolish the current pension reform that raises the retirement age in phases.

Finally relations with Russia, to work with the Kremlin on international issues such as the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean and the continuing influence of violent Islamists.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • chronic

    Europa's fragility becomes more obvious.

    And Merkel is one divisive instrument.

    May 22nd, 2018 - 11:49 am -1
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