New premier-designate Carlo Cottarelli arrives to addresse the media after meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinale Presidential Palace, in Rome, Monday, May 28, 2018. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP)
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Italy's president set the country on a path back to fresh elections Monday, appointing a former International Monetary Fund official as interim prime minister with the task of planning for snap polls and passing the next budget.The decision to appoint Carlo Cottarelli to form a stopgap administration sets the stage for elections that are likely to be fought over Italy's role in the European Union and the eurozone, a prospect that is rattling global financial markets.The eurozone's third-largest economy has been seeking a new government since inconclusive March elections, with anti-establishment forces abandoning their efforts to form a ruling coalition over the weekend after a standoff with the president.French President Emmanuel Macron praised his Italian counterpart Mattarella, saying he was fulfilling his role as the guarantor of the country's institutions with "courage and responsibility".Macron – a pro-Europe centrist – is watching Italy's unfolding political crisis closely, aware that his plans for deepening the European Union depend largely on a stable and like-minded government emerging in Rome.
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