Man who has never held public office is named as Italy's new prime minister

There are claims Giuseppe Conte inflated his academic CV

Man who has never held public office is named as Italy's new prime minister

Giuseppe Conte addresses a press conference after meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome, Italy | Image: Alberto Lingria/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The Italian President Sergio Mattarella has approved a political novice - who has never held public office and has been accused of embellishing his CV - as the next prime minister.

The appointment of Giuseppe Conte is set to break a political deadlock that had gripped Italy since an inconclusive election on March 4th led to a hung parliament.

He emerged as a compromise candidate of the two largest parties after the vote: the populist, Eurosceptic 5-Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio and the right-wing League headed by Matteo Salvini.

The two leaders agreed to form a coalition government after weeks of negotiations, amid fears the Eurozone's third-largest economy has been taking a populist plunge.

Their coalition now looks set to govern, though has yet to be sworn in.

Mr Conte's appointment was thrown into doubt after suggestions he inflated his academic CV in an effort to boost his international profile.

His 12-page resume says he "perfected and updated his studies" at New York University during the summers of 2008-14.

But The New York Times quoted NYU spokeswoman Michelle Tsai as saying: "A person by this name does not show up in any of our records as either a student or faculty member."

Ms Tsai told the newspaper that the school does not keep records of people who attended one or two-day courses.

NYU also told the AP news agency that Mr Conte was given permission to use the NYU Law Library for research in those years.

The 5-Star Movement defended Mr Conte, saying he "never boasted" of holding degrees from foreign universities, but "stayed abroad to study, enrich his knowledge and perfect his juridical English".

Mr Conte also has to convince his critics that he has the independence to lead the coalition government - and not just execute the wishes of the parties that support him.

The law professor, who has a reputation as a snappy dresser, was born in Volturara Appula, a town of 467 residents near Foggia, in the region of Puglia.

Giuseppe Conte during a meeting with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella | Image: Us/Ropi/Zuma Press/PA Images

The 53-year-old currently teaches law in Florence and Rome.

He graduated top of his class from the University of Rome in 1988 and now sits on several high-profile boards, publishing legal texts and advising on company administration.

An expert in civil and commercial law, Mr Conte has also served on a government administrative justice council.

In that role, he presided over a commission that ousted a public administration official who had demanded that female students in his law course for aspiring magistrates wear mini-skirts to class.

Although he is not a politician, Mr Conte was named as a potential public administration minister by Mr Di Maio before Italy's election in March. Prime ministers do not have to be a member of parliament in Italy.

On Monday night, Mr Salvini described him as "an expert of simplification, de-bureaucratisation and streamlining the administrative machine, that's what so many businesses want".

Last week, the two parties unveiled a raft of policies, promising to lower the age of retirement, increase welfare spending and make billions of euros in tax cuts.

They also pledged hardline immigration and security measures, including building more detention centres, reviewing the rescues of migrants at sea, and deporting some 500,000 migrants from Italy.

The plans - particularly to increase spending - have prompted warnings from France and a rapid increase of Italy's borrowing costs.

Mr Conte has also pushed for stronger safeguards against corruption.

Both Mr Di Maio and Mr Salvini had hoped to be appointed prime minister, but an outsider was preferred to maintain the balance of power between their parties.

They are expected to be part of the incoming government, with Mr Salvini touted as a possible interior minister and Mr Di Maio as a possible minister for labour and economic development.