Salvina appointment divides Italian govt
Italy’s political crisis has deepened with no sides backing down over demands by the two leading populist parties to appoint a Eurosceptic finance minister, sending shockwaves across the bloc’s markets.
President Sergio Mattarella’s refusal to accept the nomination of 81-year-old Paolo Savona as economy minister has infuriated the leadership of both the Five Star Movement (MS5) and nationalist League which began forming a government last week.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant League, posted on Facebook that he was “very angry” at the deadlock over the appointment of Savona, who is a distinguished scholar and former industry minister. Savona has been a vocal critic of the euro, which he has called a “German cage”, and the European Union as a whole.
The two parties said the only other option may be a new election.
They are waiting to raise spending, cut taxes and possibly install a finance minister who believes that Italy’s entry into the eurozone was a “historical mistake”.
Prime-minister-in-waiting Giuseppe Conte is due to present the cabinet to the president, whose endorsement is needed. Conte, an obscure law professor with no political experiences, met the president on Friday without resolving the deadlock.
The compromise candidate for premier already appears to be at least the third most important person in his own cabinet and in danger of becoming a figurehead.
“I hope no one has already decided ‘no’,” Salvini told supporters in northern Italy.
“Either the government gets off the ground and starts working in the coming hours, or we might as well go back to elections,” Salvini said.
Both parties have a long history of embracing the unorthodox, supporting conspiracy theories and challenging institutions that have traditionally been seen as key to Italian society.
Maio said he expected there to be a decision on whether the president would back the cabinet before tomorrow (Monday).
“It is a political choice … Blocking a ministerial choice is beyond [the president’s] role,” said Alessandro Di Battista, a leading figure within the MS5.
Mattarella’s team said he would not accept a “diktat” from the parties.
“There is an institutional grammar that has to be rewritten,” said Giovanni Orsina, a historian at Luiss University in Rome. “This conflict is something we might have expected, because President Mattarella – installed by the former prime minister, Matteo Renzi – belongs to the old majority and the populists are impatient when it comes to checks and balances dictated by the Italian constitution.”
Rome is no stranger to political controversy. Picture credit: Wikimedia