BRUSSELS BEATEN: Populist Coalition Takes Office in Italy, Eurosceptic Savona Returns as EU Affairs Minister

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The European Union has been dealt a severe blow in Italy, with anti-establishment Five-Star and nationalist Lega forming a government including the eurosceptic Paolo Savona.

Italian president Sergio Matterella, an EU loyalist appointed by fellow politicians rather than elected by the people, used his usually ceremonial position to block the populist parties’ first attempt to form a government, claiming that Savona — their pick for economy minister — was unsuitable due to past criticism of the euro currency.

The elderly head of state then sent for globalist technocrat Carlo Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund director, to form a so-called ‘caretaker’ government — but the scheme was scuppered amid a massive public backlash, with Five-Star leader Luigi Di Maio calling for the president’s impeachment and many members of public voicing their support on social media.

It appeared certain that the Mediterranean country would be heading back to the polls, with top eurocrats such as Günther Oettinger — Angela Merkel’s man on the unelected European Commission — saying they hoped “The markets and a ‘darkened’ outlook will teach Italy’s voters not to vote for populist parties in the next election.”

These remarks only served to inflame a feeling that Italian democracy was being usurped, however, with polls showing Five-Star and, in particular, Matteo Salvini’s nationalist Lega, would come back from fresh elections even stronger and leave the EU in an even more difficult situation.

Consequently, President Mattarella said he would allow the two parties more time to form a government, and ultimately signed off on an ‘Italy First’ administration which saw Paolo Savona return not as economy minister but, pointedly, as EU Affairs minister.

This, along with claims by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker that Italy needs “more work; less corruption; [and] seriousness” rather than less EU almost guarantee that Rome and Brussels will come into conflict sooner rather than later.

One source of conflict may be the coalition’s plans to deport hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who have been ferried into the country in recent years — a move opposed by the EU’s pro-mass migration leadership.

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