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Italy’s populists have picked the wrong fight with Europe

The real enemy lies not with EU budget rules but at home, in the country’s tortoise-like growth 

By Paul Wallace  

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte (C) delivers his first speech to the Senate flanked by Luigi Di Maio (L) and Matteo Salvini. Photo: Zucchi/Insidefoto/Ropi/Zuma Press/PA Images

Ever since Italy’s insurgent populist parties forged an unlikely coalition government that started in June, their proposals for the 2019 budget this autumn loomed as a potential flashpoint with Europe. However far apart the right-of-centre League led by Matteo Salvini and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement headed by Luigi Di Maio were in their electoral bases and ideologies, they were united in stuffing their manifestos with…

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