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What we know about Italy’s PM-designate Carlo Cottarelli

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What we know about Italy’s PM-designate Carlo Cottarelli

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REUTERS/Tony Gentile
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Former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli has been asked to form a stop-gap government in Italy to lead the country into early elections.

His appointment as interim prime minister by President Sergio Mattarella came after months of political uncertainty in Italy, sparked by the general election in March.

The 64-year-old prime minister-designate vowed to put together a government “very quickly”, with hopes of having the 2019 budget approved before elections at the beginning of next year.

Here’s what we know about Cottarelli, his political plans and the reaction to his appointment.

Education and jobs

An economics graduate from the University of Siena and London School of Economics, Cottarelli worked for six years in the Bank of Italy's Monetary and Financial Sector Division and for a year at multinational energy company ENI.

He joined the IMF in 1988 and worked there for 25 years, serving as director of the group’s fiscal affairs department from 2008 to 2013.

‘Mr Scissors’

Cottarelli became known as "Mr Scissors" because of his cuts to public spending in Italy.

Following a long stint with the IMF, he was appointed commissioner of a review of public spending in 2013 under Italy’s then-prime minister Enrico Letta.

In this role, he compiled a list of possible cuts worth €32 billion, affecting areas ranging from pensions to the national rail service.

But the 72-page review was not followed, Reuters reported.

The following year, the economist returned to the IMF, lamenting the resistance of bureaucrats in Rome in helping him carry out his role.

Since October 2017, he has worked as director of the Public Accounts Observatory at the Catholic University of Milan, and as a TV pundit.

REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Political plans

In his first remarks as prime minister-designate, Cottarelli pledged that his "neutral" government would guarantee "prudent" management of Italy's public debt, which at 132% of GDP is the second highest in Europe after Greece.

He also vowed to press the EU to respond to concerns in Italy, but stressed that the country’s "role in the union is essential, as is our continued participation in the eurozone."

He aims to hold new elections next year after passing the 2019 budget. However, he said if his programme doesn’t win parliament’s confidence “the government would resign immediately and its main function would be the management of ordinary affairs until elections are held after the month of August.”

Populist reaction

Cottarelli’s appointment came after the anti-establishment Five Star and far-right League parties abandoned plans to form a coalition, angered by the president's veto of their choice of a eurosceptic to become economy minister.

League leader Matteo Salvini dismissed Cottarella as "Mr Nobody" who "represents financial institutions" and called for elections as soon as possible.