Italy’s populists agree on a government, close to deal on PM

Five-Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio (C) talks to the media after a meeting with the leader of the Northern League , Matteo Salvini (not pictured) in Rome, Italy, 11 May 2018. Reports state that Luigi Di Maio said that a fresh meeting with Matteo Salvini on the formation of a new government went well. EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCONI

Italy’s populists agree on a government, close to deal on PM


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Italy’s two populist parties, the anti-establishment leftist Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the ultra-nationalist far-right Lega (League) have agreed to put forward a programme that would identify a mutually acceptable prime minister to lead the new government by no later than Monday, according to media reports circulating in Italy.

Lega leader Matteo Salvini and M5S leader Luigi Di Maio have both discussed the matter with President Sergio Mattarella, saying they were close to securing a deal on naming next prime minister.  Mattarella is due to meet Di Maio at 4:30 pm local time and a delegation of the League at 6:00 pm.

Di Maio claimed to the media that the two parties have agreed that the next prime minister will be a “political figure and not a technocrat” as had previously been speculated. The . Italian media has reported that the nominee will likely be from a third party, rather than an insider from either Lega or M5S.

Five-Star secured 32% of the vote during the March 5 poll, with Lega coming out on top of a three-party right-wing alliance that includes former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s Forza Italia. Salvini’s Lega secured 37% share of the right-wing/ultra-nationalist, which in-itself, captured 17% of the vote. nationwide

Both Salvini and Di Maio have clearly stated that Berlusconi and Forza Italia will not be joining the alliance, although no decision has been made regarding the extreme far-right party, the Brothers of Italy. The argument is that a third party would embolden the government and allow it to take a more resolute stand against backbenchers and potential defectors. It would also secure a parliamentary balance between the extremes on the right and left.

The Eurosceptic 5-Star and Lega parties have both agreed to cut taxes, boost welfare spending, and to enact draconian anti-immigration laws. These measures are likely to set Rome on a collision course with Brussels as the new government has vowed to ignore the budgetary restrictions currently in place due to the Italian government’s deficit.

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