Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Italy government not a done deal, Five Star warns

AFP, ROME

Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) on Friday said that its tentative coalition deal with the center-left Democratic Party could still fall apart.

M5S leader Luigi Di Maio said “either we are in agreement on carrying through the points of our [M5S] program, or we stop here.”

Should the Democratic Party (PD) — which was the M5S’ bitter enemy until just a couple of weeks ago — not agree to its key policy demands, “it would be better to go back to the polls as soon as possible,” he said.

Di Maio’s warning followed consultations with Italian prime minister-designate Giuseppe Conte, who has been tasked with forming a new government following the collapse of Italy’s populist coalition last month.

“We’re not looking at a government just to get by, we consider some of the points of our program indispensable,” Di Maio said.

The PD’s reaction was swift and sharp, with Graziano Delrio, the party’s lower house leader, insisting that it was “committed to loyally supporting the efforts of Prime Minister Conte. This effort alone has already restored confidence in Italy.”

“Di Maio’s ultimatums to the premier-designate are completely unacceptable,” he said.

Conte on Friday met all of Italy’s main parties as he raced to ensure that his coalition would have the necessary working majority.

Political watchers have said Di Maio, 33, is fighting for his political life after the previous M5S-League coalition saw him reduced to an extra in what essentially became Italian Minister of the Inteiror Matteo Salvini’s show.

Di Maio has reportedly demanded he be kept on as a deputy prime minister — something the PD is set against.

“Luigi’s most bellicose advisers are entertaining the idea of pulling the rug on the deal if the negotiations for Cabinet posts go badly for their chief,” Simone Canettieri wrote in the Messaggero newspaper on Friday.

Canettieri said that Di Maio was sending “clear warnings” to Conte, including his insistence that any program accord between the M5S and PD would have to be voted on online by the Movement’s members.

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