Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Money | By Arnold Ball

Italy's rival populist leaders to report on coalition talks

Italy's rival populist leaders to report on coalition talks

Di Maio and Salvini have promised President Sergio Mattarella, whose job it is to appoint a prime minister, that they'll tell him the results of their talks on Sunday.

No specific names of candidates were mentioned, but Di Maio said the atmosphere around the negotiations was "excellent".

"We are making significant progress on the government programme by finding broad points of convergence on issues that are important to Italians", said Di Maio after meeting Salvini in the lower house Chamber of Deputies on Friday.

Five Star and the League have been negotiating a power-sharing deal since last Wednesday, when Salvini's right-wing coalition partner, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, gave the green light for the pair to form a government without his Forza Italia party.

The two parties also condemned the European Union for failing to stop mass migration into Italy from Africa and for refusing to take its share of 600,000 people who have landed on Italian shores.

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It would also be Italy's first all-populist government, at a time when nationalist and anti-EU sentiment is gaining in traction across much of the continent.

Salvini and Di Maio are also willing to make compromises over their flagship policies - the League's drastic drop in taxes and the M5S's universal basic income - which look tricky to reconcile in the eurozone's second most indebted country.

Mattarella, normally a low-profile figure, warned at the weekend about the importance of running sound public finances and maintaining Italy's traditional pro-EU positions. However, no prime minister has yet been selected.

The 5-Star Movement has already said it would put any accord to an online vote of its own members.

"The lack of familiarity (with each other) and government experience, together with the likely limited life-span of the coalition government, will somewhat constrain the capacity of the new executive to follow through on their more outlandish campaign pledges", Piccoli said. Berlusconi said that his party would support any measures taken by the new government that are in line with the centre-right programme "and that we consider useful for Italians".

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