Chaos rules in Italy as the country approaches a 3rd month without a government

  • Two months after its inconclusive general election, Italy’s political parties are still battling to form a government.
  • The Five Star Movement is the biggest single party, but will seemingly only consider working with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
  • It had previously held talks to govern with the right-wing Lega Nord, but refuses to govern with them unless they cut ties with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
  • Berlusconi’s Forza Italia Party has a long standing alliance with the Lega Nord, although Berlusconi himself is currently banned from office.
  • Talks between the Democratic Party and Five Star could start next week, although some PD members are unhappy with the possible alliance.

Italy’s political stalemate shows no sign of easing, with high level disagreements remaining between all the parties with ambitions to govern the currently rudderless nation.

A general election in the country in early March failed to produce a majority winner, or even an obvious structure for a coalition – with the largest single party, the Five Star Movement, initially ruling out entering into government with any other party.

Five Star softened its stance in the weeks after the vote, and is almost certainly going to be part of any eventual government. The party (or parties) that join it in governing the eurozone’s third largest economy – that’s up in the air.

Three major parties could join Five Star and its 31-year-old leader Luigi Di Maio in government, but doing so would cause a whole host of problems for each one. Five Star is deliberately not aligned with any wing of the political spectrum, making ideological tie ups with Italy’s traditionally left and right wing parties much more difficult.

The most obvious solution for Five Star is to team up with the Lega Nord, a far-right party which holds similar anti-establishment views to Five Star – although is much more extreme on issues like immigration.

The problem with that possible alliance is that prior to the election, the League, led by Matteo Salvini, entered into an agreement with Forza Italia, the party of many time prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Di Maio and his party see Berlusconi as the antithesis of everything they stand for, believing him to be a part of Italy’s corrupt establishment, and as such have refused to entertain being in government with his party (Berlusconi himself is currently banned from office).

Salvini and his party have vowed to stay allied to Berlusconi, although media reports on Friday suggested that he may be willing to ditch the octogenarian former prime minister. Salvini denied those reports.

“Today’s papers say that I’ll leave Berlusconi on Monday. I understand why they’re selling less and less,” he said, according to the ANSA news agency.

“It’s not true that it will happen. I don’t see why I should change my mind every quarter of an hour.”

That leaves one realistic option for Five Star, joining with the Democratic Party (PD), something that the PD had previously completely ruled out, with its interim leader Maurizio Martina saying earlier in the month that the party was committed to being a strong opposition to any future government.

Some of PD’s leadership team has since changed its mind, with Martina now keen to enter talks with Five Star. Problems still exist, however, with PD chairman Matteo Orfini resisting any government with the party, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The PD and Five Star are set to begin talks as early as next week, according to numerous media reports, but divisions within the democrats could cause major issues to any talks.

Martina has rushed ahead, he’s gone too far,” Sandro Gozi, a junior minister and ally of former PD leader Matteo Renzi told Bloomberg.

“As things stand, I really don’t think there will be the numbers in the leadership for a government with Five Star.”

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