Italy’s challenge in forming a government

On May 3rd, President Sergio Mattarella announced a new round of consultations with party leaders that will take place on May 7th.  The President is trying to put an end to the nine weeks of political deadlock that followed the March elections.

Mattarella has already held two rounds of consultations that did not result in successful agreements. Now the President wants to hear if party leaders propose other ideas. “After two months, the initial positions of the parties have not changed. No prospect has emerged for a government,” Mattarella said in a statement. If party leaders fail to sign up to an administration, a new vote will be held in autumn 2018.

National elections on March 4th did not lead to a clear winner. The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement emerged as the biggest single party, and a center-right alliance won the most seats. The center-left Democratic Party (PD) came in third, with its worst-ever election result. Luigi Di Maio, leader of the M5S, and Matteo Salvini, who heads the Northern League, have the responsibility to form a government.

Who are the emerging parties?

The Five Star Movement was founded in 2009 and it is led by Luigi di Maio. The movement is Euroskeptic, anti-immigration and pro-green. It proposes a minimum monthly income of €780, and it aims to allow earlier retirement and to raise taxes on energy companies.

The League (formerly the Northern League) is led by Matteo Salvini. Its aim is to introduce a parallel currency, abolish the EU’s fiscal compact, bring in a flat tax for all at 15%, and repatriate 100,000 illegal immigrants a year.

In coalition with The League, the centre-right Forza Italia is led by Silvio Berlusconi. It aims to introduce a “parallel currency” for domestic use, keeping the euro for international trade; have a flat rate income tax, and block new immigrant arrivals.

On the centre-left, the Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, or PD) is led now by Maurizio Martina, after its long-time leader, former prime minister Matteo Renzi resigned in March following the stinging election defeat. The PD proposes increasing the minimum wage, abolishing the fiscal compact, and cutting taxes and increasing investment.

The alternatives now for Italy include:

*     an agreement between the PD and the right (which is rejected by Matteo Salvini);

*     an all-party government (rejected by Luigi Di Maio); or

*     a partnership between the M5S and the right-wing Northern League (otherwise known as “the League)

That last option worries other European countries, as Salvini’s plan is to exit from the eurozone in the short term. At least Di Maio’s plan regarding the EU remains ambiguous.  

Valeria Nazzi  (Rome, Italy)

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