Italian Premier-designate to report on progress in forming a cabinet

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Rome, Dec 12 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Prime Minister-designate Paolo Gentiloni was due on Monday to report to Sergio Mattarella on his efforts to build a government since being invited to do so by the head of state.

“I asked the president of the republic for an audience to report on the work I have done,” Gentiloni said after holding rounds of talks with parliamentary groups, adding he was due to go to the presidential Quirinale Palace in the evening.

Mattarella on Sunday asked 62-year-old Gentiloni to replace centre-left Premier Matteo Renzi, who resigned last week after his crushing defeat in a crucial referendum on constitutional reforms.

Gentiloni, a loyalist from Renzi’s Democratic Party, served as Foreign Minister in Renzi’s government.

In a brief acceptance speech, he said he would work within the framework of the previous administration, making it likely that he will reappoint several ministers.

The challenges facing Gentiloni include an Italian banking crisis and a rise in popular support for anti-establishment and eurosceptic parties.

Opposition parties have ruled out joining a national unity government.

The populist, Eurosceptic Five Star Movement, which rivals the Democratic Party as the most popular party in opinion polls, has said it will boycott a parliamentary approval vote slated for Wednesday, calling it illegitimate.

Five Star and the anti-immigrant Northern League has called for immediate elections, which are currently due in May 2018.

Mattarella however wants the current law to be rewritten before any snap polls, arguing that compatible electoral systems for both houses of parliament will increase political stability.

The law was changed to the so-called ‘Italicum’ system last year to give the biggest party a parliamentary majority through bonus seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies. But there has been no such change in the Senate, which is elected by proportional representation.

Italy’s constitutional court is due to issue a ruling on January 24 on the ‘Italicum’ electoral law.

–IANS/AKI

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