Italy's Populists Need "A Few More Days" To End Government Crisis

Erika Holt
May 16, 2018

The leader of Italy's Eurosceptic 5-Star Movement has asked for more time to hammer out a coalition agreement with the head of a rival populist party and said he wants his voter base to have a say in any deal before a government is formed.

The Five Star Movement and The League have said they still have to make conclusive decisions on a range of policies, and still have not picked who will be the prime minister.

Both Di Maio, 31, and Salvini, 45, had claimed the right to become prime minister but with neither willing to compromise, they are expected to nominate a mutually acceptable neutral figure as the next prime minister.

"We are writing what will be the government program 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", Mr Di Maio told reporters after meeting with Mr Mattarella. He had set a deadline on Sunday to end the stalemate which was the result of inconclusive elections earlier this year.

Talks between Salvini and Mattarella were under way Monday evening at the president's office.

Both leaders insisted Monday that no names within their future cabinet would be made public before they had been approved by Mattarella.

The coalition negotiations are aimed at "giving a government of change to this country", Mr Di Maio said.

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At the March polls, Five Star emerged as Italy's largest single party in parliament by far after winning almost 33% of the vote. "I'm proud that we are discussing, even heatedly, about the kind of Italy we want to create", said Salvini, adding there were differences on issues including immigration, justice reform and infrastructure.

The two parties - the largest groups in the legislature who together can muster a majority in both houses - were adversaries before the March 4 national election, which produced a hung parliament.

Mr Di Maio said he and Mr Salvini agreed "that we won't publicly name names" of their choices for premier.

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

Five Star is by far Italy's largest single party after winning almost 33 percent of the vote.

But the biggest single bloc is a centre-right alliance of Mr Salvini's League and Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia party that garnered 37% of the vote.

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