New prime minister sworn in to lead populist Italian government

A law professor who has never held political office was sworn in as Italy’s new Prime Minister on 01 June 2018 afternoon, bringing to power a populist new government whose senior figures whipped up anti-immigrant and euroskeptic sentiments in their path to office. Giuseppe Conte took an oath of loyalty to the Italian constitution in a gilded room in the Quirinal, Italy’s presidential palace in Rome, ending three months of political turmoil.

But while Conte will nominally hold the most powerful office in Italy, the driving forces in his administration will be the leaders of the two political parties that gained the most votes in an inconclusive election in March: the right-wing League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

The country’s new populist, euroskeptic government is likely to be met with alarm by other European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who are both eager to push for further EU political and economic integration. I strongly believe that our community will only flourish when based on respectful dialogue and loyal cooperation, which I will do my best to ensure.

The League has also faced widespread criticism for xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies reminiscent of those forwarded by far-right parties across Europe, including Germany’s AfD and France’s National Front. Italy has not had a government since it went to the polls in March, the longest such period in the country’s postwar history. For weeks, Di Maio and Salvini were locked in talks with Mattarella and struggled to form a government.

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