Italian President Sergio Mattarella addresses the media after meeting Italy's premier-designate Giuseppe Conte in Rome, Sunday, May 27, 2018. (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via AP)
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Italy was plunged into fresh political chaos as the president prepared Monday to appoint a pro-austerity economist as leader after a bid by two populist parties to form a government collapsed.On Monday, Salvini threatened to break his alliance with pre-election right-wing coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi should the media mogul's Forza Italia party vote for the government.The 81-year-old billionaire former prime minister released a statement on Sunday in which he praised Mattarella's efforts to "safeguard this country's families and businesses.His partnership with Salvini, which saw them part of a grouping that won the most votes in the March vote, is still in place despite the League's attempt to form a government with Five Star, as Forza Italia and the League hold local and regional administrations together.A former judge at Italy's constitutional court, Mattarella has refused to bow to what he saw as "diktats" from the two parties that 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.
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