Italy's League leader sets conditions on government talks

Ann Santiago
May 17, 2018

Talks between Mr Salvini and Mr Mattarella took place late on Monday at the president's office.

The M5S considers itself a "post-ideological" movement, but some of the League's far-right, pro-business policies would be hard to stomach for a considerable part of its electorate, which is left-leaning and green-minded.

Salvini named infrastructure, immigration and Italy's relationship with the European Union as the main sticking points.

Salvini and M5S leader Luigi Di Maio were expected to announce a "government agreement" and a nominee for prime minister following negotiations over the weekend, but on Monday Di Maio revealed that more work was needed on the deal and that no names would be made public.

"We are writing what will be the government programme for the next five years and it's very important for us to finalise it as best as possible, so we have asked the president for a few more days to definitively close the discussion", Di Maio said after meeting Mattarella, adding that a finalised deal would be put to an online vote for Five Star members.

But Salvini said disagreements were more about policy than personalities.

Five Star, Northern League close in on coalition 6 weeks after election

At the March polls, Five Star emerged as Italy's largest single party in parliament by far after winning almost 33% of the vote.

Italy has faced a two-month political impasse since the inconclusive March election, with no party or coalition able to secure enough support to govern.

The two Italian parties are in the process of forming the coalition government after the March 4 parliamentary election, which had seen the victory of the center-right coalition, consisting of the League, Forza Italia, Brothers of Italy, and Us with Italy parties, which had garnered 37 percent of the ballots.

The League and the M5S must also agree on representation from the parties in the new government.

"We are making an enormous effort because if I was only thinking in terms of political, party and personal convenience, we would have left a long time ago", Mr. Salvini said at the Monday news conference at the president's Quirinal Palace. "They explained to me that that they are also assessing another figure, [fellow academic Giuseppe] Conte, and they have not said yet who they have chosen", Sapelli told the Italian Ansa news agency.

Italy has the highest debt levels in the Eurozone, second only to Greece.

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