Italy plunges into political crisis after govt talks collapse

Italy's Prime minister candidate Giuseppe Conte (C) leaves after a meeting with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella on May 27, 2018 at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2018

Italy plunges into political crisis after govt talks collapse

ROME: Italy was mired in fresh political chaos after the populist parties’ bid to take power collapsed with the president set to appoint Monday a pro-austerity economist to lead a technocrat government ahead of new elections.
President Sergio Mattarella vetoed the nomination of fierce euroskeptic Paolo Savona as economy minister, enraging the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League and prompting their prime minister-elect to step aside.
“I have given up my mandate to form the government of change,” said lawyer and political novice Giuseppe Conte, 53, plunging the country into a political crisis nearly three months after March’s inconclusive general election.
Mattarella said he had accepted every proposed minister except Savona, who has called the euro a “German cage” and said that Italy needs a plan to leave the single currency “if necessary.”
The leaders of Five Star and the League, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, denounced the veto, decrying what they called meddling by Germany, ratings agencies and financial lobbies.
Mattarella has summoned Carlo Cottarelli, an economist formerly with the International Monetary Fund, for talks Monday, with a temporary technocrat government on the table as Italy faces the strong possibility of new elections in the autumn.
Cottarelli, 64, was director of the IMF’s fiscal affairs department from 2008 to 2013 and became known as “Mr. Scissors” for making cuts to public spending in Italy.
He will struggle to gain the approval of parliament with Five Star and the League commanding a majority in both houses.
“They’ve replaced a government with a majority with one that won’t obtain one,” said Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio to supporters at a rally near Rome.

A former judge of Italy’s constitutional court, Mattarella has refused to bow to what he saw as “diktats” from the two parties which he considered contrary to the country’s interests.
He had watched for weeks as Five Star and the League set about trying to strike an alliance that would give Italy’s hung parliament a majority.
Mattarella said that he has done “everything possible” to aid the formation of a government, but that an openly euroskeptic economy minister ran against the parties’ joint promise to simply “change Europe for the better from an Italian point of view.”
“I asked for the (economy) ministry an authoritative person from the parliamentary majority who is consistent with the government program... who isn’t seen as a supporter of a line that could probably, or even inevitably, provoke Italy’s exit from the euro,” Mattarella said.
The president said Conte refused to support “any other solution” and then, faced with Mattarella’s refusal to approve the choice of Savona, gave up his mandate to be prime minister.
The leaders of Five Star and the League, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, were infuriated by Mattarella’s refusal to accept Savona, a respected financier and economist.
Salvini, who was Savona’s biggest advocate and a fellow euroskeptic, said on Sunday that Italy wasn’t a “colony,” and that “we won’t have Germany tell us what to do.”
“Why don’t we just say that in this country it’s pointless that we vote, as the ratings agencies, financial lobbies decide the governments,” a livid Di Maio said in a video on Facebook.
Later on Italian television he called for impeaching Mattarella.
“I hope that we can give the floor to Italians as soon as possible, but first we need to clear things up. First the impeachment of Mattarella... then to the polls,” Di Maio said

London police treating London crash as terrorist incident

Updated 26 min 57 sec ago

London police treating London crash as terrorist incident

  • Authorities said in a statement Tuesday that a man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences
  • Armed police immediately surrounded the silver car after it crashed at 7.37am

LONDON: London's Metropolitan Police say that they are treating the crash outside of Parliament as a terrorist incident.
Authorities said in a statement Tuesday that a man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences.

British counter-terrorism police will lead the investigation into Tuesday’s car crash outside the UK parliament in London that injured “a number of pedestrians”, but Scotland Yard said it was still “keeping an open mind.”

“While we are keeping an open mind, the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the #Westminster incident,” the force said in a Twitter statement.

A “number of pedestrians” were injured when a car crashed into barriers outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, with armed police swooping in to arrest the driver, the police force said.



“The male driver of the car was detained by officers at the scene,” the police statement said. “A number of pedestrians have been injured.”

None of the injuries are believed to be “life-threatening,” said police, who were yet to say if they suspected terrorism.

London Ambulance Service said they had treated two people at the scene for non-serious injuries and taken them to hospital.

Peter Rhodes, an assistant director of operations with the service, said: “We were called at 7.40am to reports of an incident on St Margaret Street, SW1. We sent a number of resources to the scene including three ambulance crews, responders in cars and an incident response officer.”



Armed police immediately surrounded the silver car after it crashed at 7.37am (06:37 GMT), pointing guns at the driver as he was removed from the vehicle, according to footage posted on Twitter.

Later images showed police holding the man, dressed in jeans and a black puffer jacket, in handcuffs as roads and Underground stations around parliament were sealed off.

Witness Ewalina Ochab told the Press Association that the incident “looked intentional.”

“I was walking on the other side. I heard some noise and someone screamed,” she said.

“I turned around and I saw a silver car driving very fast close to the railings, maybe even on the pavement.

“I think it looked intentional — the car drove at speed and toward the barriers.”

Westminster was the scene of a terror attack last year, when Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British convert to Islam, drove a car at pedestrians on a bridge over the River Thames, before fatally stabbing a policeman on guard outside parliament.

The attack left five people dead and around 50 injured, and only ended when police shot Masood dead.

Britain endured a tumultuous period following the March 22 rampage, with four further terror attacks, including three in the capital at London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green tube station.