Italian PM ‘in running for law professorship’

Coalition leader Giuseppe Conte has been urged to back out formally of the race for a top university job

September 14, 2018
Giuseppe Conte
Source: Getty

Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte has been criticised for failing to withdraw his application for a law professorship.

Mr Conte left academia in June after he became the surprise choice to lead Italy’s coalition government, an alliance between the right-wing League party and the populist Five Star Movement.

However, despite promising last week to “reconsider” his candidacy for a law professorship at Sapienza University of Rome, Mr Conte is yet to officially drop out of the race for the role, Politico reported.

He had applied for the post in February while working at the University of Florence, but has not notified the Rome university that he is otherwise engaged, the political website said.

Mr Conte had been due to sit an exam as part of the selection process on 10 September, but the two other candidates, Mauro Orlandi and Giovanni Perlingieri, have said they were offered the chance to postpone as the prime minister would not sit the test that day. The two professors decided not to go ahead with the oral exam after consulting with each other.

News that Mr Conte may still be in the running for the post has sparked criticism from his political rivals, as well as speculation that he may soon return to full-time academia.

“Prime Minister Conte, how worthy are your words?” tweeted Simona Malpezzi, the deputy speaker in the senate, adding that “you told Italians: I will not take part in the competition for the chair at Sapienza”.

“Could you please show us how and when you withdrew? Because we don’t have any sign you’ve done it,” she continued.

Caterina Bini, also a Democratic Party MP, called Conte a “serial liar” over his failure to withdraw from the competition at Sapienza.

“It is a clear, repeated, grave conflict of interest for president of the council [prime minister] albeit only formally in office,” she added, in a dig at his supposed lack of authority in the Italian government.

Both other applicants for the position and the university’s judging committee have declined to comment on the matter.

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