Political parties ask for more time in Italian political crisis

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After two days of political consultations, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said on Thursday evening that the parties had asked for more time, adding that next week the consultations will continue.

Two days after Italy’s populist government collapsed, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader has told the president he will try to reach a deal with the populist Five Star party (M5S) though even League leader Matteo Salvini is cautiously open to reforming the coalition with M5S.

Mattarella wants a swift government deal, otherwise Italy faces new elections.

Presidential consultations on new government kick off
Italian Deputy Premier, Labour Minister and Five Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio Luigi Di Maio (C) addresses the media after a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace for the first round of formal political consultations. EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCONI

After meeting the president earlier on Thursday, leader Luigi Di Maio said he was ready to negotiate for a “solid majority” in parliament but made no mention of the centre left.

The president also met Salvini as well as the leaders of the centre-right Forza Italia party and the far-right Brothers of Italy.

Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi warned that without a centre-right majority in the next government there would have to be new elections. Salvini said he would be prepared for another alliance with Five Star, even though he preferred elections.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned in parliament on Tuesday, after one of the two leaders in the coalition, Salvini, pulled the plug on the government, demanding a vote of no confidence.

Presidential consultations on new government
Mattarella (2-L), meets the deputy premier and leader of League party, Matteo Salvini (C), and his party members Massimiliano Romeo (R) and Riccardo Molinari (2-R) in the Quirinale Palace during the formal political consultations f. EPA-EFE/Paolo Giandotti /HANDOUT

Salvini, whose right-wing, nationalist League is leading the opinion polls, is seeking new elections, 14 months after he went into coalition with M5S.

Currently there is a possibility of some sort of coalition between the centre-left PD, that was among the first of the party leaders to visit the president on Thursday morning, and the M5S.

The two parties have never seen eye to eye, but already held exploratory talks in which both expressed initial interest in a deal.

PD leader Nicola Zingaretti came up with several conditions for Five Star to meet, including loyal membership of the European Union, giving parliament a central role and a reversal of Salvini’s anti-immigration policies.


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