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Second day of Italy crisis talks after prime minister resigns

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Italy’s president will hold a second day of talks aimed at solving the political crisis shaking the country on Thursday after the disintegration of the populist government.

President Sergio Mattarella will meet the main parties, including the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and far-right League, after the breakdown of their dysfunctional coalition.

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Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Tuesday after months of alliance sniping and a bid by League leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to force a snap election, just 14 months since coming to power.

The nationalist, populist government’s demonisation of migrants, promoted by Salvini in particular, and attempts to flout EU budget rules had angered many European leaders.

Mattarella met the leaders of both houses of parliament on Wednesday and has been trying to find a way forward.

The formation of a new coalition, a short-term technocratic government or an early election — more than three years ahead of schedule — are the main options.

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– Conditional support –

A proposed alliance between M5S and opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) — previously almost unthinkable — appears to be gaining traction, with PD leader Nicola Zingaretti saying he is ready to make a deal.

The PD and M5S have been at each other’s throats for years — but an alliance would see Salvini kicked out of government, a powerful motive for compromise.

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Zingaretti has said the party would back an M5S coalition dependent on five conditions, including a radical shift in Italy’s zero-tolerance policy on migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

He later told “La 7” television he was also against the idea of Conte staying on as prime minister.

M5S would like Conte to remain in place but did not give much away, saying it would “wait for the end of consultations”.

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In a bid to get a PD-M5S alliance off the ground, former PD premier Matteo Renzi has said he will not participate.

Many in the anti-establishment party view him as elitist.

Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, on Wednesday mocked his former coalition allies, saying: “In a week they have gone from the League to Renzi.”

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He added: “No matter which government emerges, its goals will be against the League.”

– Risk of recession –

The end of the unstable coalition government in the eurozone’s third-largest economy has so far been welcomed by the markets, with a sharp rise in the Milan stock market on Wednesday.

The country’s debt ratio — 132 percent of gross domestic product — is the second-biggest in the eurozone after Greece, and youth unemployment is currently above 30 percent.

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Governments have consistently struggled to bring down debt levels and unemployment.

“Italy’s disharmonious political backdrop and the country’s budgetary challenges extend well before the sovereign debt crisis,” said Rabobank analyst Jane Foley.

Rome needs to approve a budget in the next few months or potentially face an automatic rise in value-added tax that would hit the least well-off Italian families the hardest and likely plunge the country into recession.

“(The crisis) arrives at a critical juncture for Europe amid the risk of recession in Germany and the formation of the new European Commission, and could contribute to deteriorate significantly the confidence on the eurozone,” said Andrea Montanino, chief economist at the General Confederation of Italian Industry.

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After last year’s election it took months of wrangling before a government was formed.

Mattarella has made it clear he wants talks to conclude quickly but splits within the PD and M5S, as well as sharp policy differences, could complicate coalition efforts.

A PD-M5S tie-up would realistically also need support from smaller parties to be an effective government.


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‘Should we talk about Ivanka?’: MSNBC guest calls for Trump family investigation if Biden’s son is scrutinized

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During a panel discussion on Donald Trump's call for an investigation of Joe Biden's son Hunter over his Ukraine dealings, an "AM Joy" guest said if Congress is going to investigate politician's kids why not start with Ivanka Trump and her brothers Don Jr. and Eric.

Speaking with MSNBC host Joy Reid, Intercept columnist Mehdi Hasan called out President Donald Trump for his "brazenness" going after the former vice president's son.

"There's so much to say about this story, as for the Ukrainian denials, what are they going to do, come out and say, 'Yes, Donald Trump did pressure our president eight times in a single phone call'? It's absurd." Hasan began.

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Lindsey Graham drives bus over Trump kids to get to Biden: ‘You can’t investigate one family and not the other’

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested on Sunday that the children of both President Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be investigated.

While speaking to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Graham was asked if he is calling for an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son over dealings in the Ukraine. President Donald Trump allegedly also asked Ukraine's president for help with the Bidens.

"Yeah, I want the Department of Justice to appoint somebody to look at the role the Ukraine played if any in the 2016 elections," Graham told Bartiromo. "There are a lot of allegations out there how Ukraine fed information maybe to the Democrats."

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Entire CNN panel beats down Santorum for Ukraine misinformation: ‘You don’t get to decide what the facts are’

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Conservative CNN contributor Rick Santorum was called out on Sunday after he seemed to be uneducated about President Donald Trump's attempt to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son.

During a panel discussion on CNN, Republican contributor Mia Love said that Trump's communication with Ukraine was not "appropriate" if he was looking for campaign help.

"There is no equivalence between Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and what this president has allegedly done," Democratic consultant Karen Finney noted. "The things that were investigated against the Bidens [were] shelved, totally debunked."

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