Italy’s next 'politically unknown' prime minister taught in Malta

Italy’s next prime minister is expected to be law professor Giuseppe Conte, a compromise candidate chosen by the leaders of Cinque Stelle and Lega

Law professor Giuseppe Conte is likely to become the next Italian prime minister
Law professor Giuseppe Conte is likely to become the next Italian prime minister

Italy’s next prime minister may have an impressive legal and academic curriculum but no clue about politics, according to influential newspaper Corriere della Sera.

But Giuseppe Conte, who is a compromise figure agreed by the leaders of the Cinque Stelle and Lega, may not be a complete unknown in Malta.

Conte, a law professor at the University of Florence, had taught an international course entitled ‘European Contract and Banking Law’ at the University of Malta in 1997.

Whether the connection will be useful to create a good government-to-government rapport remains to be seen but political analysts doubt that Conte will wield real power as he heads the shaky coalition government.

Conte's imminent appointment comes more than two months after an inconclusive general election left Italy in a state of flux.

The leaders of Cinque Stelle and Lega, Luigi di Maio and Matteo Salvini respectively, will be holding powerful ministerial roles. They agreed to Conte’s name as a compromise.

Salvini is expected to hold the home affairs portfolio and di Maio is likely to be responsible for labour.

The two leaders have been hammering out a coalition deal over the past week and are expected to present the agreement to Italian president Sergio Mattarella on Monday afternoon.

Cinque Stella emerged as the largest single party after elections last March, while Lega was the largest party in the centre-right coalition.

Both parties are Eurosceptic and Lega have a hard-line stand on immigration.

The new Italian government is expected to reverse a policy by which Italy has been taking in all rescued migrants in the central Mediterranean. The policy adopted by the outgoing centre-left government ensured very few migrants arriving by boat came to Malta over the past four years.

A hard-line stand on immigration by its neighbour is likely to cause Malta headaches. But the added complication is the fact that the key people in the two Italian coalition partners have no historic rapport with any Maltese politicians.

Conte’s appointment as prime minister may provide some reprieve for the Maltese government, even if his connection goes back 21 years, but it will also depend on whether the law professor will be the one to call the shots.

The prospective Italian government has raised eyebrows in the EU.

The coalition partners have both said the fiscal ceilings imposed by the eurozone, should be relaxed, creating unease among Italy’s euro partners.

The country has the second largest debt-to-GDP ratio after Greece, a situation that could cause tremendous turmoil if Italy loses track of its finances.

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