Italy election: Five Star and League 'agree programme'

Frederick Owens
May 16, 2018

The 5Star leader also said that, once (or maybe if) finalized, the government contract will be put to an online vote of the party's supporters.

But after spending barely 30 minutes in Mattarella's office, 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio told reporters that their programme was still a work in progress.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-migrant, Euroskeptic League on Tuesday resumed talks on the possible formation of a new government after getting more time for negotiations from President Sergio Mattarella on Monday.

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

The two parties are looking to implement massive tax cuts, abolish unpopular pension reform and introduce new welfare payments to Italy's growing army of poor.

They have also both said they want to override European Union budget deficit restrictions to help boost growth and are opposed to economic sanctions on Russian Federation, which they have pledged to try to overturn. However, Mattarella warned over the weekend that he would not be a "pushover".

The president, who has the final word on nominating a premier, has also reminded both sides that he is not obliged to accept their recommendation for prime minister.

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There was speculation that the top job could be offered to Giulio Sapelli, an economist and university professor, or Giuseppe Conte, a law professor at Florence University.

"We're not discussing names".

"On immigration the League and Five Star's positions start from notable distances", Mr. Salvini said.

The economic promises made by both parties during the election campaign seem incompatible with Europe's budget rules, though markets have so far seemed relatively unfazed at the prospect of the nascent coalition.

The two parties - the largest groups in the legislature who together can muster a majority in both houses - were adversaries before the March 4 national election, which produced a hung parliament.

The 5Stars and the League have been negotiating a government deal since last week, when Salvini's election partner, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, gave the green light for the two populist forces to form a government without his Forza Italia party.

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