A political stalemate ends, giving birth to a populist government in Italy

A political stalemate ends, giving birth to a populist government in Italy

4 March: Inconclusive elections left Italy, the EU's fourth-biggest economy, without a government.

Giuseppe Conte has been sworn in as the Italian Prime Minister.

After the ceremony, Conte headed to the premier's office to formally take the reins - and a symbolic little bell - from ex-Premier Paolo Gentiloni.

The new deal has not yet been blessed by Italian president Sergio Mattarella, who earlier this week nominated a technocrat, Carlo Cottarelli, to serve as prime minister.

Between them, the League and 5-Stars have a thin parliamentary majority, and some right-wing lawmakers outside the government have vowed to abstain rather than vote against them.

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In a separate report, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) noted that Salvini will be in Luxembourg on June 5 for a meeting of European Union interior ministers with the agenda set to be dominated by discussion of the EU's controversial Dublin rule, whereby would-be refugees must file for asylum in the first bloc member-state they enter.

That sparked a breakdown of the coalition's first attempt to form a government and a furious reaction from the coalition leaders. The populist coalition has a programme that pledges a spending spree and tax cuts, a guaranteed "citizen's income" for the poor, scrapping a pension reform which raised the retirement age, and challenging European Union rules.

Giuseppe Conte, a 53-year-old law professor with no political experience whom Italian media has dubbed the "unknown professor", leads the newly-formed cabinet of 18 ministers, including five women and three non-political appointees.

"It's the celebration for all of us, of our republic", he said.

Migration experts have stated that the appointment of such a radical leader will reduce rights of migrants and asylum seekers, in a country that already has difficulties in integration.

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"Their actions so far have been a mix of extremism, anti-Europeanism and inequity".

Salvini, who wants to open a migrant detention and deportation centre in every Italian region, later tweeted: "Either Europe gives us a hand in making our country secure, or we will choose other methods".

"Gotta stay strong or the bully boys will be after you", he warned.

The foreign policy agenda of Italy's new populist government caused a stir on two fronts Monday, with Tunisia protesting a comment by the interior minister about migrants and the pro-Russia stance of the ruling coalition receiving scrutiny.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a conference Thursday that he loved Italy, but refused to accept the frequent pass-the-blame mantra by Italian politicians that Italy's ills are the fault of the EU. Di Maio is also the minister for labor, a combination he said made sense since the two ministries must work together.

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