news 3 days ago

Juncker 'pleased' that Conte is PM again

Adnkronos International, Rome — Adnkronos International, Rome

Sept. 11--European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday voiced his appreciation of Giuseppe Conte, saying he was pleased he had returned as Italy's prime minister.

"I was glad the first time that Conte came to Brussels and I am pleased that he has returned," Juncker told reporters as Conte arrived for a meeting with him at the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels.

Conte heads Italy's new left-leaning government - a coalition of the pro-European Democratic Party (PD) and the grassroots 5-Star Movement -which took office last Thursday and which the parliament voted confidence in this week.

Conte's previous coalition between 5-Star and the eurosceptic, rightwing League party collapsed in August after League leader Matteo Salvini pulled his party out in what turned out to be a vain hope of triggering and winning a snap election based on his and his party's popularity.

Salvini's gamble backfired when 5-Star and the PD - the two largest parliamentary parties - agreed to form a new government.

Conte, a law professor who was plucked from obscurity to lead the populist 5-Star-League government that came to power in June last year, has no political affiliation.

Initially seen as the 'puppet' of his deputy premiers Salvini and 5-Star chief Luigi Di Maio, Conte has proved to be an able mediator. A likeable and urbane figure, polls suggest he has won the approval of most Italians.

Conte is said to have been "surprised and proud" at glowing praise he received in a tweet from US president Donald Trump last month.

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