'Italy first' - Conté sworn in as head of new anti-establishment government in Rome

The country's 18 new ministers includes anti-establishment figures, right-wingers and academics

'Italy first' - Conté sworn in as head of new anti-establishment government in Rome

Outgoing Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni hands over the cabinet minister bell to new leader Giuseppe Conte, 01-06-2018. Image: Claudio Peri/AP/Press Association Images

Italy has sworn in Giuseppe Conte as the head of a new anti-establishment government following weeks of political drama.

The 53-year-old law professor was chosen as Prime Minister by the leaders of the populist 5-Star Movement and nationalist League, who formed the new government following elections in March.

In Rome's gilded Quirinale Palace, President Sergio Mattarella swore in 18 new ministers, including anti-establishment figures, right-wingers and politicians from former governments.

Promoting an "Italy first" agenda that has alarmed the political establishment and vulnerable groups, it aims to cut taxes, boost welfare spending and overhaul European rules on budgets and immigration.

Its policies include a monthly basic income for Italy's poorest and a two-tier tax system.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, second from left, poses with his vice Prime Ministers Luigi Di Maio, second from right, and Matteo Salvini, left, and the undersecretary of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Giancarlo Giorgetti, right, 01-06-2018. Image:  Claudio Peri/AP/Press Association Images

League chief Matteo Salvini, a hard-line anti-migrant figure, was appointed interior minister, and has pledged the deportations of irregular migrants and a crackdown on people smuggling.

Mr Conte, a political novice who has never held public office and has been accused of embellishing his 12-page CV, emerged as a compromise candidate between the two largest parties.

Claims he had "perfected and updated his studies" at New York University were thrown into doubt by administrators, who said he did not show up in student enrolments - though he had been approved to use the library.

"I used to vote left," Italian media has quoted him as saying. "Today, I think that the ideologies of the 20th century are no longer adequate."

Luigi di Maio, who heads the 5-Star Movement, was made minister for economic development while minister for public administration is lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, who defended the ex-boyfriend of Amanda Knox against murder charges.

European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated the newly appointed prime minister, saying the appointment "comes at a crucial time for Italy and the European Union."

"To overcome our common challenges, we need unity and solidarity more than ever," he added.

The government will be formally handed over later on Friday and will face a confidence vote later this week, which given the makeup of Parliament is likely to pass.

Milan's stock market rose on Friday, after the deal was reached late on Thursday evening.