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Giuseppe Conte set to be sworn in as Italian PM

Giuseppe Conte addresses the media at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome, Thursday, May 31, 2018. Italy’s president has tapped law professor Giuseppe Conte to be Italy’s next premier heading the country’s first populist government. The president’s office announced Thursday that Conte had accepted the role, and that he would be sworn in Friday afternoon with ministers. (Fabio Frustaci / AP)
Giuseppe Conte addresses the media at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome, Thursday, May 31, 2018. Italy’s president has tapped law professor Giuseppe Conte to be Italy’s next premier heading the country’s first populist government. The president’s office announced Thursday that Conte had accepted the role, and that he would be sworn in Friday afternoon with ministers. (Fabio Frustaci / AP)
Tribune News Service

ROME – Political novice Giuseppe Conte was on Friday set to be sworn in as prime minister of Italy at the head of a populist coalition government, after President Sergio Mattarella accepted a revised list of ministers.

The president’s blessing ended the weeks of political wrangling and uncertainty that followed March 4 elections, rocking financial markets and triggering concerns in Italy’s European Union partners.

Mattarella had rejected Conte’s first choice for economy minister, Paolo Savona, at the weekend because of his anti-euro stance, but subsequent attempts to form a technocratic government also failed.

The populist parties then came to a fresh agreement on Thursday, nominating Giovanni Tria, a 69-year-old economics professor who is not a supporter of a euro exit, to take the economy portfolio.

The Foreign Ministry will be headed by lawyer Enzo Moavero Milanesi, considered a moderate and an internationally experienced negotiator, while League party chief Matteo Salvini will become interior minister.

Five Star Movement, or M5S, head Luigi Di Maio, who has championed the issue of a guaranteed basic income for the poor, will be given the post of labor minister. Di Maio and Salvini will also be deputy prime ministers.

The new government must be approved by a parliamentary vote but the League and the M5S have a majority in both chambers of the legislature.

While the prospect of fresh elections had prompted concerns, the new government’s program of tax cuts and the introduction of a minimum wage despite Italy’s huge debts will remain a source of unease for markets and the EU.

Italy’s debt is almost 132 percent of its annual gross domestic product.

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