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Italy’s Populists Move Closer to Power, With Little-Known Pick for Prime Minister

“They know each other very well,” said Ms. Lucente of the prelates and Mr. Conte.

Nicholas P. Cafardi, dean emeritus and canon law professor of the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, said Mr. Conte, whom he called “highly talented,” was his lawyer when he bought his house in Italy and handled legal issues at Villa Nazareth for Cardinal Silvestrini, who is the institution’s president.

Two years ago, when Ms. Lucente came to Rome for a Villa Nazareth event with Pope Francis, she said she saw Mr. Conte and his wife and son and noticed he was already a mover and a shaker in law circles. He had “a driver and a beautiful limo,” she said, but preferred to take his bicycle.

Italy’s Populists Move Closer to Power, With Little-Known Pick for Prime Minister
Italy’s Populists Move Closer to Power, With Little-Known Pick for Prime Minister

She said he spoke excellent English, which is reflected in his résumé, with numerous publications, and international work experience.

He lists research at famous universities around the world, including Yale, the Sorbonne in France and New York University, where he said he “perfected and updated his studies” while staying at the college for at least a month every summer between 2008 and 2012.

Asked about Mr. Conte’s experience at N.Y.U., Michelle Tsai, a spokeswoman, said Monday, “A person by this name does not show up in any of our records as either a student or faculty member,” adding that it was possible he attended one or two-day programs for which the school does not keep records.

Amid the dozens of courses Mr. Conte listed teaching on his résumé, he included a summer class at the University of Malta called “European Contract and Banking Law.”

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