Italian anti-establishment and right-wing leaders were poised on Monday to announce a government programme and nominate a prime minister, ending two months of political deadlock.
The leaders of the anti-immigrant League party and Five Star Movement were meeting Italian president Sergio Mattarella on Monday afternoon to share details of a government programme for the eurozone’s third largest economy, thrashed out over the weekend.
The M5S leader Luigi Di Maio began talks with Mattarella at 2:30 pm, with Matteo Salvini and other members of his League party beginning their meeting at 4 pm. Salvini had earlier said the pair were “writing history” after making a brief call to the president’s office on Sunday.
An M5S representative told AFP on Monday that the pair want to present the details of their agreement – including their prime ministerial candidate – to the president before making them public.
Di Maio said that the nominee would be a politician and “not a technocrat” after meeting Salvini in Milan on Sunday. If Mattarella accepts the nomination then the position could be filled within days.
The prospective PM is likely not to belong to a third party, a factor which might reassure other mainstream European political parties, for whom the eurosceptic M5S-League partnership represents a blow.
Salvini has in the past referred to the EU as a “gulag” and struck alliances with anti-union figures such as Viktor Orban and Marine Le Pen, and while Di Maio has softened Five Star’s previously antagonistic tone on Europe, both his party and the League have vowed to take tough stances with Brussels on issues like EU fiscal rules and migration.
According to reports, the parties have also agreed on rolling back increases to the age of retirement, while the M5S is willing to follow the League’s hardline anti-immigration policies.
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.
For the composition of the government, the League and M5S must also agree on representation from the parties.
On its own, Salvini’s League won 17 percent of the votes on March 4th, but it was part of a right-wing alliance including Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party that garnered 37 percent of the vote. M5S is by far Italy’s largest single party after conquering nearly 33 percent of the electorate.