Thu, May 31, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Italy tries again to form government

GROWING POPULARITY:Support for League has increased to about one-quarter, meaning an alliance with Five Star in a new election could lead to a larger majority

Reuters, ROME

Italy yesterday searched for a last-minute exit from almost three months of political turmoil, with its biggest party looking to make a renewed attempt to form a coalition government with the right-wing League party, a source said.

The two anti-establishment parties, the Five Star Movement and League, had abandoned plans to jointly take power over the weekend after Italian President Sergio Mattarella blocked their proposed Cabinet lineup.

Mattarella’s veto of 81-year-old euroskeptic Paolo Savona as minister of economy and finances appeared to tip the country back toward repeat elections and triggered a dramatic speculative attack on Italian financial markets.

The parties are now trying to find “a point of compromise on another name” to lead the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the source close to Five Star, the single biggest party in the new parliament.

Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio on Tuesday night told a rally in Naples, Italy, that he was ready to cooperate with League leader Matteo Salvini to solve the political crisis.

However, Salvini, who is surging in opinion polls, appeared to throw cold water on that idea, saying that Italy should return to an election as soon as possible.

“Di Maio’s overture? We’re not at the market and it’s also a question of dignity,” Salvini yesterday told a rally in Pisa, Italy. “We tried to form a government with the center-right and then with Five Star, and we were always told ‘no.’”

“The earlier we vote the better, because it’s the best way to get out of this quagmire and confusion,” Salvini told reporters.

However, he said that an election at the end of July would be “disruptive” for Italian seasonal workers in particular.

He invited Mattarella to make the first move, saying that he should “explain to us how we can get out of this situation.”

Despite the softer tone from Five Star, a top adviser to Salvini said a breakthrough with the president looked difficult, because the League was not prepared to abandon Savona.

“If it wasn’t possible three days ago, then it’s hard to see why it would be now,” Giancarlo Giorgetti said.

A surprise breakthrough between the president and the two parties would ease uncertainty, but still usher in a coalition planning to ramp up spending in the heavily indebted nation and push for changes to EU and eurozone fiscal rules.

In the event of a continued stalemate, Italy would go back to elections, with most major parties calling for the president to dissolve parliament and hold a vote as early as July 29.

A new opinion poll showed that League, which has argued that fiscal rules governing the eurozone are “enslaving” Italians, would boost its share of the vote to one-quarter, from about 17 percent on March 4.

The Ipsos Group poll, published in newspaper Corriere della Sera, showed support for Five Star steady at about 32.6 percent — implying a much more comfortable majority if the pair were to try again to govern.

That prospect has rocked financial markets, with the euro sinking to multi-month lows on fears that snap elections would lead to a euroskeptic government in Rome.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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