By Giovanni Legorano
ROME — Italy was thrown into political turmoil Sunday evening, as the Italian president blocked the formation of a new government supported by two anti-establishment parties due to concerns the coalition could endanger Italy’s membership in the single currency.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella blocked the ascent to power of a government supported by the maverick 5 Star Movement and the hard-right League after they proposed a euroskeptic figure as economy minister, an especially delicate job for a country with a €2 trillion public debt.
The dramatic developments sparked immediate calls Sunday evening from the two maverick parties for fresh elections. But Mattarella instead will likely on Monday ask Carlo Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund official, to attempt to form a new government. But even if Cottarelli succeeds in forming a new government, fresh elections in Italy are now increasingly likely.
Nearly three months after parliamentary elections, 5 Star and the League appeared poised to form a government that would bring an antiestablishment, euroskeptic coalition to power in the eurozone’s third-largest economy. They proposed Giuseppe Conte, a political neophyte and little-known academic, as prime minister. However, the coalition also insisted on appointing Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old economist and former industry minister, to become Italy’s new economy minister, an especially delicate job in a country with the world’s third-largest public debt, a weak banking sector and an economy that is the only Group of Seven nation still smaller than before the financial crisis which began in 2008.
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