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Little-Known Lawyer Tapped to Form Italian Government 


Giuseppe Conte, center, arrives to address the media after meeting Italian President Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome, May 23, 2018.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has asked little-known lawyer and academic Giuseppe Conte to seek to form a new populist government that many migrants in Italy fear will mean deportation for them.

Conte, who has no political experience, met Thursday with all the groups in parliament to discuss his plans.

His name was put forward by Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5-Star Movement, which obtained the largest number of votes in the March general elections, and by Matteo Salvini, head of the second-largest party, the League. The two parties have formed a coalition that will enable their government to have a majority in both houses of parliament.

FILE - League party leader Matteo Salvini speaks to the media at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy, April 5, 2018.
FILE - League party leader Matteo Salvini speaks to the media at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy, April 5, 2018.

After meeting with Mattarella, Conte said he accepted with reservation the mandate to form a government. Conte added that if he managed to carry out this task, he would present a program to parliament based on the interests of the majority political parties.

Conte's list of government ministers is unlikely to be presented before late Friday. The Cabinet lineup is still undergoing changes.

The appointments of the heads of the two main parties appear certain: 5-Star Movement leader Di Maio will head the Labor Ministry to enact his pledge to boost welfare for the poor, and the League's Salvini will head the Interior Ministry to pursue his promised crackdown on illegal immigration.

Conte was quick to declare that Italy is rightly awaiting the birth of a government. He said the new government would be one of change.

Change, however, comes with concern, especially in the immigrant community.

Salvini, in his electoral campaign, often warned of the dangers of uncontrolled immigration, including arrests and violent protests.

Instead, immigration must be regulated, he says, even if that means deporting up to 500,000 illegal immigrants.

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