Italy's President asks former IMF economist to form government

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Italy's President asks former IMF economist to form government
Italy's President asks former IMF economist to form government

Rome : Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday asked a former economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to form the government in a bid to end a political stalemate that has persisted in the Mediterranean country since elections two months ago produced a hung Parliament.

Mattarella's formal request to Carlo Cottarelli came amid calls from populist and anti-establishment leaders for the President to be impeached for having rejected the candidacy of a eurosceptic as Finance Minister, the BBC reported.

Italy, the eurozone's fourth biggest economy, has been without a government since elections in March because no political group could form a majority.

Two of the big winners from the vote -- populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League party -- attempted to join forces but abandoned efforts after their nomination for Finance Minister, 81-year-old Paolo Savona, was shot down by Mattarella.

The Secretary-General of the presidency, Ugo Zampetti, read out the brief announcement of Mattarella's request, which mentioned that Cottarelli had accepted, albeit with reservations.

Both the M5S and the League, as well as former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's right wing-populist Forza Italia, have said they would not vote for Cottarelli, making his eventual ascension to the premiership unlikely, as he requires substantial parliamentary backing in order to take up the post.

Cottarelli currently serves as Director of the Italian Public Accounts Observatory (OCPI) at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.

In 2013, he was appointed by then Prime Minister Enrico Letta to lead a technocratic commission overseeing steep budget cuts and the implementation of a strict austerity plan, which earned him the nickname "Mr Scissors".

He has been one of the most prominent critics of the government deal signed between the M5S and the League, especially of its economic provisions related to welfare programmes for low-income families.