News ID: 214792
Published: 0224 GMT May 09, 2018

Italy’s populists seek last-gasp gov’t deal

Italy’s populists seek last-gasp gov’t deal

Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and the far-right League asked Wednesday for 24 hours to form a coalition government as the president prepared a controversial caretaker administration to break the country's months-long deadlock.

“The Five Star Movement and the League have informed the president that they are in talks to try and come to a possible government accord and that they need 24 hours to develop this initiative,” said a statement from the presidential palace, AFP reported.

Italy has been locked in a political impasse since the March 4 election failed to produce a clear winner.

A right-wing coalition led by the nationalist League won the most seats at the polls while the anti-establishment Five Star became the biggest single party, but neither obtained enough seats for a majority.

After three failed rounds of consultations, the country looked to be heading either for a caretaker government, chosen by the president, or fresh elections as early as July.

It had been widely expected that President Sergio Mattarella would nominate his pick for prime minister to lead a "neutral" government later Wednesday.

However, both the League and Five Star are staunchly opposed to a caretaker government and without their support the initiative would not pass a confidence vote in parliament.

Mattarella’s response to the extension request was not immediately clear, although it is thought he would be unlikely to refuse.

For the past two months the two parties have been scrambling to reach an accord for a coalition government but have repeatedly hit a wall over the League's coalition partner, former premier Silvio Berlusconi – who is himself barred from office.

Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio had insisted that the League ditch Berlusconi and his Forza Italia Party as a prerequisite to forming a government together, something League leader Matteo Salvini has so far refused.

But according to Italian media, Salvini's main political allies are exerting strong pressure on Berlusconi to give his approval to a Five Star-League government, while his own Forza Italia Party remains deeply divided on the issue.

The regional governor of Italy's northern Liguria region, Giovanni Toti, who holds a lot of clout within Forza Italia, suggested Wednesday that his party could exercise a "benevolent abstention" in the face of a coalition.


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