Maverick Italian party names ministers pre-election
Italy's Five Star Movement has named its team of ministers if it is asked to form a government after Sunday's election - an unusual move aimed at stealing a march on its rivals and showing voters it is ready for power.
The anti-establishment party leads in most recent opinion polls, with about 28pc of the vote, but is highly unlikely to be able to govern on its own, so it remains to be seen if any of its candidates will actually become ministers.
Nonetheless, Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio has sent the ministerial list to President Sergio Mattarella in what he called an "act of transparency" in contrast with the back-room horse trading that often marks post-election government formation in Italy. "This time Italians will not have to vote without knowing what they are getting," he said after presenting four of his would-be ministers on a television talk show.
Opponents dismissed the move as a publicity stunt.
"Ministers must be presented after the election when the president has picked a prime minister," said Matteo Renzi, leader of the ruling Democratic Party. "Doing it before is more about getting newspaper headlines than respecting the rules."
The vote is widely expected to produce a hung parliament, and polls suggest the only group with any chance of getting a parliamentary majority is a centre-right coalition built around the 81-year-old four-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Five Star says if no party or coalition has enough seats to govern on its own, and it is the largest party, Mattarella should ask Di Maio to try to form a government, though the president is under no obligation to do so.
Under 31-year-old Di Maio, elected leader in September, Five Star has rowed back on its previous refusal to form alliances with mainstream parties and now says it is willing to negotiate with them on policy, though not over cabinet positions.
Five Star has been gradually releasing the names of its ministerial candidates since Sunday in an effort to set the media agenda in the last week of campaigning.
On Wednesday it presented Domenico Fioravanti, who won two swimming gold medals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, as its choice for sports minister.
Previously named candidates, for the ministries of industry, labour, the civil service, environment and agriculture, include three university professors, a general from the Carabinieri police and a senior agriculture ministry official.
The choices are meant to refute accusations of inexperience and incompetence often levelled at Five Star by its critics.
Di Maio was last night due to present the rest of his would-be team, including the key posts of economy minister, foreign minister, interior minister and defence minister. He has said the last three will all be women.