Italian economist to meet president amid political crisis

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Shortly afterwards, he summoned former International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior official Carlo Cottarelli for a Monday morning meeting - an indication he may be considering asking him to head a government of unelected technocrats.

Italy's newly appointed Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte arrives for a meeting with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy, May 27, 2018.

A technical government will still be subject to votes of confidence in both houses of Parliament, and the Five Star Movement and League made clear Mr Cottarelli would not have their support.

Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte promptly abandoned his efforts to form a government.

"Looking further ahead, it is hard to see how Italy can emerge from the ongoing political-institutional crisis in a better place politically", he said. "The president has asked me to go before parliament with a program that will bring the country to new elections", he said.

University of Florence law Professor Giuseppe Conte received a mandate last week from staunchly pro-Europe President Sergio Mattarella to try to form viable government out of rival populist forces.

Last week Savona's known criticism of the euro and German economic policy further spooked financial markets that were already concerned about the future government's willingness to reign in the massive national debt, worth 1.3 times its annual output.

Economist Paolo Savona, 81, a candidate for the economy ministry, said in a statement on an Italian website on Sunday that he was in favour of a European political union and urged full implementation of objectives in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.

The country could be headed for another election in the coming months.

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In an interview for the TV program "Che Tempo Che Fa", Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio said he was "asking for Mattarella's impeachment".

Wolfango Piccoli, Co-President of the political risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence, says the next election campaign is likely to feature an even stronger Eurosceptic tone.

Mattarella vetoed the nomination, but the M5S and League refused to back down, both calling to impeach the president.

But the stance to block eurosceptic economy minister Paolo Savona boosted sentiment towards the currency.

Five Star had been trying to form a government with the right-wing League.

Outgoing Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan contended that the real problem wasn't Savona, but the "clearly unsustainable" platform of a populist government "that doesn't rule out a Plan B: that is, in the face of European pressures, one must leave Europe".

The League and 5-Star, which had spent days drawing up a coalition pact aimed at ending a stalemate following an inconclusive March vote, responded with fury to Mattarella, accusing him of abusing his office.

Mr Cottarelli said: "I'll present myself to parliament with a programme which - if it wins the backing of parliament - would include the approval of the 2019 budget".