Sat, May 12, 2018 - Page 6 News List

League, M5S close to forming government

AFP, ROME

League leader Matteo Salvini, center, leaves a meeting with Five Star Movement leader Luigi di Maio in Rome, Italy, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

Italian anti-establishment and far-right parties on Thursday said they had taken “big steps” toward forming a populist government to end months of deadlock.

According to the Italian media, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-immigrant League have asked Italian President Sergio Mattarella to give them until Monday to resolve the stalemate, failing which fresh elections could be held.

M5S leader Luigi di Maio and League leader Matteo Salvini met at the lower house Italian Chamber of Deputies on Thursday morning.

“Big steps were made toward the composition of the executive and the nomination of the prime minister,” the pair said in a statement after the talks.

A question mark still hangs over who would clinch the top spot in a M5S-League coalition — both Di Maio and Salvini have said they are willing to step back and let someone else be prime minister, but neither has completely given up on their ambitions to lead the nation.

Later on Thursday Salvini took to Twitter saying: “We are working for you,” with a photograph of himself posing next to a giant bulldozer.

A beaming Di Maio said: “I cannot hide my joy that we can finally begin to take care of Italy’s problems,” in a Facebook video.

In the afternoon experts began to pour over the parties’ key proposals to forge a government contract.

Talks over policies would likely be complicated given the serious differences between the two parties — in particular regarding M5S’s flagship universal basic income policy, which the League has said would create a culture of dependency.

A breakthrough in negotiations for the two parties came on Wednesday when Salvini’s right-wing coalition partner, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, gave the green light for the pair to form a government without his Forza Italia party.

Salvini and Berlusconi’s coalition won the most seats in the March election, but the 81-year-old former prime minister has been a sticking point in the ensuing horse-trading.

Di Maio insisted Salvini dump the scandal-dogged media mogul and form a government with M5S without Forza Italia.

Late on Wednesday, Berlusconi announced he would not block a possible coalition deal between the two parties.

Between them they would have enough seats in both houses of parliament to form a majority.

After three failed rounds of consultations hosted by Mattarella, Italy had looked to be heading either for a caretaker government, chosen by the president, or fresh elections.

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