A professor of private law, Conte was first proposed on 21 May 2018 for the role of Prime Minister as the head of a coalition government between the Five Star Movement and the League, but he relinquished his role when Paolo Savona, who was picked for Minister of Economy and Finance, was vetoed by President Sergio Mattarella. On 31 May, the two parties reached an agreement, proposing Giovanni Tria as Minister of Economy and Finances, and Conte was called to take the oath of office on the following day.
Conte's cabinet is considered by many newspapers such as The New York Times and la Repubblica as the first populist government in Western Europe.Moreover, he was the first person to assume the premiership without prior government or administrative service since Silvio Berlusconi in 1994 and the first Prime Minister from Southern Italy since the Christian Democrat Ciriaco De Mita in 1989.
Conte was born on 8 August 1964 into a middle class family at Volturara Appula, near Foggia. His father Nicola was a public employee in the local municipality while his mother Lillina Roberti was an elementary school teacher.
After his family moved to San Giovanni Rotondo, Conte attended the Classical Lyceum "Pietro Giannone" in nearby San Marco in Lamis and then studied Law at the La Sapienza University of Rome, where he graduated in 1988 with distinction. For short terms, Conte studied abroad. In 1992, he moved to the United States to study at Yale Law School and Duquesne University and at the International Culture Institute in Vienna in 1993. He later researched or lectured at Sorbonne University in 2000, Girton College, Cambridge in 2001 and New York University in 2008.
He started his academic career during the 1990s, when he taught at Roma Tre University, at LUMSA University of Rome, at the University of Malta and at the University of Sassari. Conte is currently professor of private law at the University of Florence and at LUISS of Rome. He sits on the board of trustees of John Cabot University in Rome.
On 18 September 2013, he was elected by the Chamber of Deputies as a member of the Bureau of Administrative Justice, the self-governing body of administrative magistrates