Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Italy’s political quandary appears to be intensifying


Efforts to start government talks between Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star and the center-left Democratic Party were thrown into disarray as leaders of the two parties said dialogue was impossible even before hearing from their respective members.

Five Star head Luigi Di Maio signaled that discussions were no longer viable after the Democrats’ former leader and former Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said his party’s executive should reject talks at a meeting scheduled later this week.

“We did everything to form a government in the interest of Italians,” Di Maio said in a blog post late on Sunday, acknowledging that without Renzi’s backing Democratic lawmakers would not be able to guarantee support for a Five Star-led government.

The Democratic Party, known as the PD, rejected issues close to citizens’ interests “and they will pay for it,” he said.

The clash reflects the impasse in the search for a new Italian government some eight weeks after a general election produced a hung parliament.

With the political forces delicately balanced, the center-right yesterday received a boost as initial results of local elections in the northern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia put its candidate ahead.

That fillip followed another win in the southern region of Molise earlier this month.

Back in Rome, formal meetings with a mediator chosen by Italian President Sergio Mattarella last week prompted Five Star and the PD to ask their members to decide whether to start talks on forming a government.

Di Maio had previously failed to reach a deal with the euro-skeptic League after its leader, Matteo Salvini, refused to abandon the right-wing alliance that won most seats in the March 4 elections.

His decision appeared to be vindicated as early returns suggested that voters in the Friuli region of 1.2 million people bordering Austria and Slovenia had overwhelmingly backed the alliance’s candidate, Massimiliano Fedriga from the League.

The center right may now seek a mandate for a minority government led by Salvini, the newspaper La Stampa reported yesterday, without saying where it got the information.

With Five Star and the PD failing to reach a deal, Mattarella’s options include appealing to all parties to back a short-lived “president’s government” led by a technocrat, or triggering fresh elections in early summer or in the fall.

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