Italy’s Conte might be back at helm with Salvini shut out

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - Staff and news ser­vices

ROME — Italy’s pop­ulist 5-Star Move­ment for­mally asked the na­tion’s pres­i­dent Wed­nes­day to give care­taker Pre­mier Giuseppe Conte the man­date to try to form a new coali­tion government in a bid to fore­stall an elec­tion that could put right-wing na­tion­al­ist Mat­teo Salvini in power.

Move­ment leader Luigi Di Maio said he in­formed Pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mattarella that the 5-Stars had reached an agree­ment with the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Party, an archri­val.

Many an­a­lysts have said a government made up of such bit­ter po­lit­i­cal foes wasn’t likely to last long, in all prob­a­bil­ity only de­lay­ing the elec­tion Salvini wants to snag the premier­ship for him­self.

Conte re­signed a week ago af­ter Salvini’s League party, the 5-Stars’ pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ing part­ner, bolted from their long-squab­bling coali­tion.

Di Maio said he told the pres­i­dent the Move­ment’s deal with the Democrats called for “Conte to again be pre­mier and try to form a new government.”

Mattarella must de­cide if an un­nat­u­ral al­liance be­tween the anti-es­tab­lish­ment 5-Stars and the cen­ter-left Democrats can pro­duce a vi­able ma­jor­ity in the Ital­ian Par­lia­ment, where Conte would have to win a vote of con­fi­dence in both cham­bers to again be pre­mier.

If Mattarella isn’t con­vinced Conte can lead a pro­duc­tive government with stay­ing power, he can call a fall elec­tion.

Salvini scorned the prospect of a Demo­crat-5Star coali­tion, say­ing it wouldn’t hold up be­cause “the only glue is ha­tred of the League,” and pre­dicted vic­tory in a na­tional elec­tion.

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