Italy’s populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the right-wing Northern League have said that they have reached « significant milestones » in forming a government.
The two groups, which have a majority in Parliament since the legislative elections of March 4, must agree on a prime minister and a government program.
« We will start talking about themes for the country. Then we will talk about names, » said Luigi Di Maio, leader of the M5S on Wednesday evening. « We still have work to do on the program, the deadlines, and the team, » added Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League. Either we conclude [an agreement] or we return to vote,” he said.
After a meeting between the two men on Thursday, the two formations say they have advanced « on the composition of the government and (the appointment) the President of the Council. » « The goal is to define everything in a short period of time in order to quickly provide the nation with answers and a political government, » the two parties said.
For two months, Silvio Berlusconi, who led the Italian right for twenty-five years, appeared to be the main obstacle to such a dialogue. For Mr Di Maio, Berlusconi was the symbol of all of Italy’s political ills, while for Mr Salvini, he remained an important ally.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Berlusconi reiterated that the members of his Forza Italia (FI) party would never vote to trust an M5S government, saying of Di Maio that he does not have the « political maturity to assume this responsibility.” But « if another political force of the right-wing coalition wants to take responsibility for forming a government with the 5 stars, we will take note of this choice with respect, » he said.
After more than two months of unsuccessful talks between the various political forces, President Sergio Mattarella spoke on Monday in favor of a « neutral » government to manage the country until December, before new elections early 2019.
On Thursday, however, the presidential palace announced that the League and the M5S, strongly opposed to the idea of a technical government, had asked for a deadline of 24 hours to push their ongoing discussions on a possible agreement.
Together, the two formations have a majority of seven votes in the Senate and thirty-two votes in the Chamber of Deputies, and would likely seek support on a vote-by-vote basis from the partners of the right-wing coalition, including Forza Italia.