Italy's president calls in former International Monetary Fund official amid political turmoil

European Union - Italy's Conte fights to form team as ally threatens new vote

Italy's new prime minister-designate Carlo Cottarelli has said he would hold an election by the start of 2019 at the latest after being given the mandate to form a government by President Sergio Mattarella.

President Sergio Mattarella tapped the economist and former International Monetary Fund official on Monday to run a technocratic government after he scuttled the euroskeptic government of the 5-Star Movement and the League.

New elections are likely after President Sergio Mattarella effectively torpedoed an anti-establishment coalition waiting in the wings by rejecting its choice of a Eurosceptic finance minister.

European stocks gave up early gains and bond yields recovered from lows as early elections loomed in Italy after the anti-establishment 5-Star and League parties abandoned plans to form a government. "If you want to discuss it, it should have been done openly and with a serious debate", which he noted hadn't been part of the electoral campaign.

"Blocking a ministerial choice is beyond (the president's) role", Alessandro Di Battista, a top 5-Star politician, said.

Politics in Italy have taken a dramatic turn with the tentative right-wing coalition, which formed after a March election, unraveling.

The elections are expected to go ahead in the fall-already, this is the longest time since the Second World War that Italy has gone without a government. "Then parliament would be dissolved with elections at the beginning of 2019", Cottarelli said shortly after being named interim prime minister. "It's madness, and I ask the Italian people to stay close to us because I want to bring democracy back to this country", Salvini told reporters.

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Italy has been without a government since an election on 4 March resulted in a hung parliament.

Germany's deputy foreign minister says he hopes there will be a "stable, pro-European" government in Italy soon, but has acknowledged that his country is in no position to offer advice after its own long-drawn-out effort to form a new administration.

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.

"We were a few steps away from forming a government, and we were stopped because in our cabinet there was a minister who criticised the EU", Di Maio said in an interview on RAI state television.

Federica Mogherini says she's convinced that President Sergio Mattarella was serving the Italian people and the European Union by forcing the end of the proposed 5-Star Movement-League government.

However, Salvini dismissed calls on Monday by 5-Star and a far-right ally, the Brothers of Italy, to chase Mattarella out of office. Under that clause, parliament can seek to remove a president if a simple majority of lawmakers votes in favour.

It is not the first time that an Italian president has refused to appoint a minister supported by the majority of lawmakers - it has happened at least three times before, most notoriously with Silvio Berlusconi.

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