Italian parties vow to break government deadlock
Italy’s three main rightist parties on Sunday vowed to present a united front in a fresh round of talks on forming a new government this week, defying attempts by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement to divide them in coalition negotiations.
Following last month’s inconclusive election, President Sergio Mattarella wrapped up an initial round of consultations on Thursday and promised to meet party leaders again soon to try to break the gridlock and put together a new government.
The March 4 vote saw the anti-establishment Five Star Movement emerge as the largest single party, while a rightist alliance, including the League, Brothers of Italy and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia group won the biggest bloc of seats.
The leaders of the three rightist parties – the League’s Matteo Salvini, Mr Berlusconi and Brothers of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni – met on Sunday to agree on a common message to present to Mr Mattarella.
"Almost 40 percent of Italians have chosen to give their trust to the centre-right parties, which today, without a doubt, have the task of forming a government," the three said in a joint statement following a meeting at Mr Berlusconi’s palatial residence at Arcore near Milan.
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The centre-right coalition will insist on naming the next prime minister and that the main parts of an election programme agreed before the ballot be respected, including proposed tax cuts, job incentives and a stop to illegal immigration.
In the first round of consultations, the three rightist leaders saw Mr Mattarella separately and there has been widespread speculation that Mr Salvini will eventually ditch Mr Berlusconi to forge a pact with the Five Star.
Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio has said he was happy to work with either the League or the outgoing centre-left Democratic Party (PD), a proposal so far rejected by both parties.
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The PD says it wants to go into opposition, while Mr Salvini has refused to break with Mr Berlusconi, which is a condition posed by Mr Di Maio.
While Mr Salvini is ready to try to link up with Five Star, Mr Berlusconi has repeatedly denounced the anti-system movement.
On Sunday, Mr Salvini ruled out any possible tie-up with the PD, telling Corriere della Sera in an interview that "if there is an attempt to be made, it is with the Five Star".