Italian politics was the scene of yet another unpredictable and dramatic turn of events on Sunday.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a political novice chosen to head the newly elected populist and right-wing government, assumed his mandate and nominated the eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona to head the Ministry of the Economy and Finances. President Sergio Mattarella did not approve of the selection and refused to accept Savona.
In response, the governing 5 Star Movement-Lega coalition would not accept any mediation and 5 Star leader Luigi di Maio is now calling for Mattarella’s impeachment. The president gave an intense and critical speech.
“I had previously expressed to the coalition parties that I would pay close attention to certain ministers,” Mattarella said. “This afternoon, Professor Conte presented to me his proposals for the team of ministers, which, as the constitution requires, I must sign off on behalf of the institution.
“In this case, the president of the republic plays a role of guarantor, and he cannot suffer external impositions. I agreed with and accepted all the proposals of ministers, except that of Minister of the Economy. The appointment of the minister for economic affairs always sends an immediate message of confidence or alarm to economic and financial operators.”
Mattarella proposed the alternative name Giancarlo Giorgetti, a Lega deputy, but the two political leaders did not agree on his name. Moreover, they directly expressed their disappointment in Mattarella’s behavior.
“Today Mattarella blocked us from creating the government of change, and in Italy we have a big problem that is called democracy,” Di Maio said Sunday night. Lega leader Matteo Salvini called for new elections.
Mattarella is now working on a new technocratic government, and he has chosen the former IMF economist Carlo Cottarelli to be the next prime minister in charge of finding a different majority in the parliament. The dramatic problem is that it is very problematic and difficult to find an alternative coalition without 5 Star and Lega support. Meanwhile, the political uncertainty is causing economic instability, and Italy is now the focus of international investors.
If Sunday night was any indication of the volatility, we could see further unexpected changes in the next few hours.