Monday 23 April 2018

Italy opens political talks on forming new government

Negotiations come after inconclusive elections on March 4.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella (Brian Lawless/PA)
Italian President Sergio Mattarella (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Jim Davies

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has opened two days of formal consultations to determine if any party or coalition can muster support to form a government after inconclusive March 4 elections.

Consultations started with the parliament speakers followed by minor parties, and will continue on Thursday with those winning the most votes, whose positions will carry the most weight in the talks.

The populist 5-Star Movement was the party with the highest number of votes at 32%, while a centre-right coalition, led by the anti-migrant League and including former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, won 37%.

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Luigi Di Maio (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Neither of the two leading forces can govern alone, and no clear path to a coalition deal has emerged in the weeks since the elections.

The leader of the 5-Stars, Luigi di Maio, says he is open to a government with the League or the Democratic Party, which suffered its worst electoral loss ever.

But he ruled out governing with Forza Italia, citing Mr Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction that makes him ineligible for office.

The Democratic Party has said it intends to remain in opposition, while Mr Berlusconi’s party has said it would not consider a government with the 5-Stars.

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Party officials arrive at the Quirinale Presidential Palace (Ettore Ferrari/Ansa/AP)

If Mr Mattarella does not see conditions for a government emerging from the first round of talks, he is likely to schedule another round as soon as next week.

While an impasse could lead to new elections, most analysts believe no party is eager to return to the ballot, leading instead to a softening of positions.

Press Association

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