Italian president holds talks to form new govt
Italy’s 78-year-old president, Sergio Mattarella, will meet political leaders today (Thursday) in an effort to form a governing administration after the coalition between the far-right Lega and anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) collapsed earlier this week.
Yesterday’s talks mostly featured smaller parties.
The eurozone’s third-largest economy is on the brink of recession and a budget is needed to adhere to strict European financial rules.
The 53-year-old Mattarella (pictured) has the power to nominate a new prime minister to replace Giuseppe Conte, who resigned this week.
The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) has issued conditions for an alliance with the populist M5S to avoid an autumn general election, with Lega topping the polls.
M5S has had poor relations with the PD but is keen to avoid an election that could allow Matteo Salvini, the League’s leader and outgoing deputy prime minister, to take power in a far-right coalition, including ex-fascists from the Brothers of Italy party.
Salvini had won almost all the battles within the coalition government, despite being the junior partner. His repressive “security” laws and the approval of the TAV high-speed rail to France through the Alps, opposition to which was a major plank of M5S’s electoral programme, were noticeable triumphs. But the populist firebrand’s economic plans floundered in the face of strong opposition.
Claudio Borghi, a Lega MP, said yesterday (Wednesday) that Italy should leave the euro.
“The euro is the wrong currency for Italy,” Borghi told Capital, a German magazine. “It has impeded Italy’s growth, puts us at a competitive disadvantage and deprives the country of the freedom to choose our own fiscal policies.”
Nicola Zingaretti, who became PD leader after last year’s election, called for a new coalition that was not led by Conte.
Zingaretti said different politicians must lead a new government. “Discontinuity applies to personnel as well as content,” he said.
A new government is expected to need to be pro-EU and committed to democracy to survive long term and to adopt a radically different migrant policy.
As interior minister, Salvini’s anti-migrant policies, which M5S supported, damaged relations with other EU member states but contributed to a surge in Lega support. Polling puts the far-right party at about 38 per cent, up from the 17 per cent it gained during last year’s general election.
Zingaretti said sustainable growth and greater social justice would be areas on which M5S and PD could agree.
Lorenzo Zamponi, editor of Jacobin Italia, said: “[The electoral result] will be determined by the new European Commission: if they continue to enforce strict budgetary regulation, they will pave the way for Salvini’s future triumph.
“If they want to avoid it, they will have to allow the new government the space for public investment and social spending they have not allowed any Italian government since 2011.”
Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Picture credit: Kremlin