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Giuseppe Conte approved as Italian prime minister

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Giuseppe Conte approved as Italian prime minister
Italian lawyer Giuseppe Conte leaves after meeting with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
08:13 CEST+02:00
Italy's president on Wednesday approved the nomination as prime minister of little-known lawyer Giuseppe Conte, who said that he wanted his government to "confirm Italy's place" in Europe and the rest of the world.

"The President of the Republic has tasked me with the role of forming a government," Conte said to reporters after leaving a nearly two-hour meeting with President Sergio Mattarella.

Conte must now finalize his cabinet, which has been the subject of days of tough negotiations between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League coalition that makes up the proposed government.

The list of ministerial candidates must then be endorsed by head-of-state Mattarella before it can seek parliamentary approval.

Conte's appointment could bring an end to more than two months of political uncertainty in the eurozone's third-biggest economy.

The Five Star-League alliance's eurosceptic stance has alarmed senior European officials, but Conte sought a more conciliatory tone towards Europe when speaking to journalists at the presidential Quirinal palace.

"I'm aware of the necessity to confirm Italy's place, both in Europe and internationally," he said.

Conte is pictured speaking to Italian press. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

"My intent is to give life to a government of the people that looks after their interests. I'm ready to defend the interests of Italians in Europe and internationally, maintaining dialogue with European institutions and representatives of other countries."

Conte, who hails from Five Star, said that he would present head-of-state Mattarella with his cabinet, which has been the subject of days of tough negotiations between Five Star and the League, within "the next few days".

The list of ministerial candidates must be endorsed by Mattarella before it can seek parliamentary approval.

Italian media reported that League chief Matteo Salvini would become interior minister while Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio will be in charge of the economic development ministry.

Mattarella was reportedly concerned about the plan to name Paolo Savona as economy minister. Minister for industry between 1993-94, Savona, 81, was staunchly opposed to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty and has said he considers the euro currency a "German cage".

The joint government programme unveiled by the parties on Friday pledges significant anti-austerity measures such as drastic tax cuts, a monthly basic income and pension reform rollbacks, which Di Maio and Salvini claim will boost growth.

EU officials have voiced concern that Italy could trigger a new eurozone crisis by refusing to stick to public spending and debt targets set by Brussels.

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