May 23, 2018 / 5:35 PM / 3 months ago

Italian president gives prime minister mandate to political novice

ROME (Reuters) - President Sergio Mattarella has given political novice Giuseppe Conte a mandate to become prime minister of a coalition put together by the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, an official said on Wednesday.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella meets Giuseppe Conte at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2018. Italian Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Conte, a Florence law professor, will now draw up a list of ministers, which must be approved by the head of state before his government can be sworn in.

Italy has been deadlocked since an inconclusive election in March. After weeks of fruitless talks between the various parties, 5-Star and the League finally agreed to a government pact last Friday, promising to hike taxes and jack up spending.

Conte is backed by 5-Star, but holds no elected position and has no political or management experience. Critics say he risks being an exceptionally weak leader who will have little influence over his coalition partners.

Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Steve Scherer

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