Italy’s aspirant PM loses credibility by overstating his academic credentials

EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI

Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (L) leaves a press conference after a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, May 23, 2018.

Beyond Conte, markets are spooked by the proposed Economy Minister


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The Italian President Sergio Mattarella delayed the nomination of Giuseppe Conte as prime minister, who apparently embellished his CV with inaccurate information.

Conte claims to have graduated from Sapienza University in Rome, pursuing further studies in Yale, Duquesne, the International Kultur Institut in Vienna, La Sorbonne, Cambridge and New York University.

Both New York University and the Sorbonne stated they have no record of Mr. Conte studying there. According to the New York University’s spokesman, Mr. Conte was mainly granted permission to use the library and had no official status. Meanwhile, the International Kultur Institut in Vienna is a language school that does not offer any legal courses. Cambridge neither confirmed nor denied Mr Conte had studied there.

Mr. Conte’s academic credentials are closely scrutinized as he has no political experience, neither as a member of parliament nor in governance.

Shadows over the nominee

The nominee of the far-right League and the 5-Star Movement (M5S) nominated the law professor on Monday and the Italian press considered his appointment a matter of time. Conte’s appointment is now called into question and Mattarella is expected to accept, or not, his nomination on Thursday.

For his part, the far-right leader Matteo Salvini made clear that Conte remains the coalition’s nominee. Conte is a member of MS5.

Paradoxically, as the formation of a government was called into question, pressure on Italian bonds somewhat waned on Tuesday.

Economy Minister

Meanwhile, the coalition is now proposing the nomination of the euroskeptic former minister Paolo Savona, 82, as economy minister.

Savona is a former industry minister who served a generation ago the short-lived technocratic government of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. Savona is a known critic of the Single Currency. In an interview with the Vita magazine in 2015, Savona criticized Germany for using Greece to show who is the “commanding country in Europe.” Famously, Savona likened the Eurozone to a German prison and called the Single Currency a historic mistake.

The interview was posted by the leader of the MS5 leader, Beppe Grillo, particularly as the interview referred to Italy’s debt as the means to blackmail Italy into making reforms that would perpetuate the country’s state of “international subjugation.”

Savona is not merely an academic, as his has served as director general of Italy’s main industrial lobby, Confindustria. He has also served as an executive for a number of Italian companies for over half a century.

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