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Italy: President Summons PM Candidate Over 'Exaggerated' CV

  • Giuseppe Conte (C) after the consultation with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2018.

    Giuseppe Conte (C) after the consultation with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2018
Opinion

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-immigrant League nominated Giuseppe Conte, 54, for prime minister on Monday.

Italy's president has summoned Giuseppe Conte as he decides whether to appoint the little-known lawyer to lead a government formed by far-right and anti-establishment groups.

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Reports suggest that Conte exaggerated on his CV, claiming to have studied at top universities, possibly delaying President Sergio Mattarella's decision on whether to approve him as prime minister.

Conte's official CV says he "furthered his juridical studies" at Yale, New York University (NYU), Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, the Sorbonne and Cambridge, but several entries have been called into question.

NYU told AFP that their records did not "reflect Giuseppe Conte having been at the university as a student or having an appointment as a faculty member," noting only that he was granted permission to conduct research in the institution's law library between 2008 and 2014.

Cambridge University declined to give details about Conte. Duquesne University told AFP he attended as part of an affiliation with Villa Nazareth, an exchange programme, and did legal research but "was not enrolled as a student."

Conte has yet to speak out publicly about the affair, but Mattarella's office said Conte was summoned to the presidential palace at 3.30 p.m., local time. 

Mattarella must agree with the parties' candidate and ministerial team before they can seek approval for the new government in parliament.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-immigrant League are seeking to form a coalition government in a bid to end two months of political deadlock following March's inconclusive general election.

Five Star has defended him as its choice to head a cabinet in which M5S leader Luigi Di Maio and League chief Matteo Salvini are tipped to hold key posts. Salvini also defended the coalition's eurosceptic candidate for economy minister, Paolo Savona.

Minister for industry between 1993-94, Savona was staunchly opposed to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty and considers the euro a "German cage."

"He is an expert with a solid background of studies but made the mistake of daring to say that the EU as it is isn't working," Salvini said. "Why do you even bother to let us vote if when the people ask for radical change you tell us to be careful?"

European officials have expressed concerns that Italy could trigger a new eurozone crisis by refusing to stick to public spending and debt targets set by Brussels.

Di Maio and Salvini's government programme pledges tax cuts and increased welfare spending to boost growth, as more than eight percent of its population lives in poverty, according to national statistics agency Istat. It also plans to speed up expulsions of illegal immigrants.

On Tuesday Salvini said there would have to be new elections if the coalition government was not given the go-ahead by Mattarella. "Either we start and we begin the change or we may as well go back to the polls," he said in a live video on Facebook.

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