The Five Star Movement (MS5) has ratified an agreement with the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) and will form a new government under prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
On Wednesday, Conte is expected to meet President Sergio Mattarella to officially submit his proposed list of ministers, Reuters reports.
MS5 has a direct-democracy online platform (“Rousseau”) on which 80,000 party members can participate in key decisions. The formation of the new government was approved by an overwhelming 79% to 20.7% but dissent was both vocal and significant.
MS5 leader Luigi Di Maio hailed the process and the result. “It won’t be a government of right or left, but a government that must do the right things,” Di Maio told the Italian press.
The first test for the new government will be the selection of a cabinet and the passing a new budget law.
On August 8, Lega’s leader Matteo Salvini withdrew his support from the government, hoping to force a snap election. As MS5 moved to negotiate the formation of a new government with PD, Salvini tries to mend the political cleavage and restore the government. It proved to be too late.
The new government may be more ideologically aligned. The two parties agree on cutting taxes on paychecks – rather than corporate earnings – avoiding a hike on VAT, and bolstering public spending on schools, research, and the green economy. Avoiding derailing state finances was one of the key arguments allowing PD and MS5 to counter objections to the formation of a government between two parties with a deep-seated rivalry.
Lega was advocating for a more ambitious deficit-financed budget, if necessary by confronting Brussels, and with a government ready to launch a parallel to the Euro currency.
Former prime minister Matteo Renzi helped to broker the Conte II government, warning that going to the polls would have been irresponsible, forcing the leader of PD, Zingaretti, to consider a coalition. PD’s parliamentary team had been picked by Renzi – who led the party during the last elections – and his influence remains decisive.
The former leader of MS5, Beppe Grillo, was also keen to avoid going to the polls, referring to Lega as the “new barbarians.”
Asked in a television interview on Monday whether he had made strategic mistakes, Salvini said: “I prefer to be seen as naive than someone who clings to power.”