Italian coalition set to defy Brussels
Italy’s two anti-establishment parties will try to reach a deal on forming a government after a leaked paper revealed plans to ignore the European Union’s rules on immigration and debt.
One of the draft ideas is to demand the cancellation of €250 billion of Italian bonds bought by the European Central Bank.
Italy already has the second-highest public debt in the eurozone.
The leader of Italy’s anti-migrant League, Matteo Salvini, said talks with the Five Star Movement (5SM) are still trying to find the right balance between the two sets of policies.
The two parties have spent a week discussing a “contract” intended to be the basis for a coalition government between the two groups.
“We’re in the final stretch,” Salvini posted on Facebook. “I’m working right until the end to see whether it will be possible.”
Since Italy’s inconclusive election on March 4, the two ill-matched parties have failed to make an agreement after repeatedly ignoring deadlines set by President Sergio Mattarella (pictured).
5SM leader Luigi Di Maio, 31, sounded optimistic on Facebook: “The fundamentals are there. We’ll have to see if we can manage to put together a contract.”
He said the policy agenda between the two populist parties was almost completed and called on the League to have the “courage” to see it through.
Di Maio echoed remarks from Salvini that European Union budget rules needed to be changed to allow Italy to spend more, although Di Maio added that this should be done in agreement with their European partners.
“The contract is almost finished,” Di Maio said on a Facebook video. “This is the moment to have the courage to go all the way.”
The parties are yet to nominate a prime minister and no name is expected until they have an agreement on policies.
Salvini told his supporters he would ask for their endorsement for any agreement he made with the 5SM.
“If there’s an agreement we’ll get started, but first I’ll ask you,” he said. “Otherwise the only way is to ask Italians to go back to vote.”
The president can also veto a prime ministerial nomination.
The two party leaders also criticised EU officials, accusing them of interfering in the talks.
Three European commissioners have already stressed there is no prospect for any change in the rules.
Salvini attacked “unacceptable interference from the EU” and Luigi Di Maio condemned “continuous attacks… from Eurocrats”.
President Sergio Mattarella. Picture credit: Kremlin