The Strategist

Italy is rapidly moving towards new elections

05/09/2018 - 08:04

Italian politicians, instructed by President Sergio Mattarella, have been trying to agree and create an effective coalition government for more than a month. So far, however, all efforts to find a compromise and create a ruling coalition, have failed. This week, the leader of the Five Star Movement Luigi Di Maio, who, just like the League leader Matteo Salvini, wants to lead the government, called for an immediate new election to parliament.

Italy is distinguished by the fact that although its president performs mostly representative functions, he is still an influencer. Much depends on him in such important moments in the history of the country as now. President, for example, not only consults with leaders of political parties and instructs them to form coalition governments, but also makes a final decision on holding early elections. Despite the fact that Di Maio seems to think that the search for compromise is hopeless, Sergio Mattarella is more optimistic. According to Reuters, he refused to fulfill demand of the populist leader and does not intend to hold new elections in June. Instead, it seems that President wants to get out of the stalemate with the help of an interim government. Every day, more and more Italians are doubting the possibility of creating a coalition government, but President of Italy will not refuse the idea. Mattarella does not want Italy to remain without a budget for 2019, which seems a very likely outcome of early elections in the near future.

"President considers it necessary to adopt a budget," a source told Reuters. "This means that the interim government should work at least until December."

The same source added that despite President's determination, it is impossible to completely exclude early elections in September or October. Stubbornness and inability of Italian politicians to negotiate will undoubtedly lead to this outcome. The interim government can be created only with support of the Five Star Movement. Meanwhile, Italy's two major political forces are extremely negative about this idea after the March elections.

"I see no other result in this situation," Luigi Di Maio said on Monday after it became apparent that attempts to create a coalition government of populists and democrats are doomed to failure. It can be explained by persistent reluctance of former PD leader and ex-prime minister Matteo Renzi to work with the Five Stars Movement. We must return to polling stations as soon as possible."

Earlier, attempt to create a ruling coalition of populists and right-wing centrists ended with the same failure. Then, however, Di Maio himself was to blame for the failure. He demanded that to exclude the closest ally of Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi, from the government for his supposed corruption schemes. Matteo Salvini refused the populist leader’s offer, after which the negotiations were stopped.

Brussels considers the Union of ultra-right and populists the most terrible option, because both parties are against strengthening the European integration and have repeatedly called for a rejection of the euro and withdrawal from NATO. However, it seems that the disagreement between the ultra-right and the ultra-left turned out to be stronger than their dislike to Brussels. Apparently, the relationship between potential allies have greatly deteriorated in April. For example, on Wednesday, Di Maio said that Salvini does not want to fulfill the earlier promise to abandon Berlusconi, because the League expects to finance big business.

"I'm not going to respond to insults about money," retorted the leader of the League. "For us, loyalty to allies and honesty are superior to becoming ministers."

Now there is the last theoretical possibility of creating a coalition government, but everyone considers it very weak. It is about the alliance of the Five Stars with the Democratic Party. Of course, Democrats understand that nobody needs early elections, but the party is split. Renzi, who, despite his resignation from the post of party leader, continues to enjoy great authority, together with his supporters refuses to cooperate with both the left (the Five Stars) and the rightists (the League). Interim PD Chairman Maurizio Martina is ready to begin talks with populists about formation of a coalition government. On Wednesday, he demanded from supporters of the former prime minister to close their new website. He does not like that they are categorically rejecting the possibility of a compromise with the Five Stars on behalf of the whole party. Martina hopes that he will be able to convince opponents of the alliance with the populists that they to compromise to comply with interests of the state. However, most political scientists doubt the possibility of even starting negotiations between the PD and the Five Stars.


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