- A month on from Italy’s general election, the country’s political situation is no clearer.
- The Five Star Movement is the biggest single party, but will only consider working with either the right-wing Lega Nord, or the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
- The PD, however, does not want to be in government, while the Lega Nord would rather work with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
- Gridlock has ensued, and no end is in sight.
One month on from the Italian election – a political event many believed would be crucial for the future of the Eurozone – and the shape of Italy’s next government is still completely unclear.
The election 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 has softened its stance a little, but early coalition talks have been cagey.
“Italian politicians have adopted a prudently tactical approach to the first consultation round, sending mixed signals about their availability for government coalition,” Paolo Pizzoli, a senior economist with Dutch bank ING said on Friday.
All of the country’s major parties held negotiations this week but virtually no agreement was reached on anything.
“Salvini, the leader of the League, made it relatively clear that the only viable hypothesis would be a coalition between the centre-right and the Five Star Movement, which would most likely be a not very long-lasting broad coalition, with a very limited agenda,” Pizzoli wrote.
Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and head of the Forza Italia party, has refused to work with the Five Star Movement, while Five Star’s leader Luigio Di Maio is similarly reticent about working with Forza Italia. Both parties exercised their veto powers against the others this week.
Di Maio – who as leader of the biggest single party has a significant amount of influence on negotiations – signalled that Five Star would be willing to work alongside either the far-right Lega Nord, or the Democratic Party (PD), led in the interim by Maurizio Martina, following the resignation of party leader (and another former prime minister) Matteo Renzi.)
The PD, however, is “unwilling to make a ‘political’ alliance with the other parties,” and is committed to going into opposition.
All in all then, it does not look like Italy will have a government any time soon.
Things are complicated even further by the fact that the Lega Nord and Five Star have a strong incentive to delay the formation of a government until regional elections are held in two weeks, as a strong performance would strengthen their hand in negotiations.
Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, and the arbiter of discussions, seems willing to allow delays, Pizzoli said.
“Yesterday [Thursday], in his succinct press conference wrap-up, President Mattarella acknowledged that a solution to the gridlock would require more time. He will allow political parties to reflect next week before calling another round of consultations, possibly on Thursday 12 April. He did not seem in a hurry nor were the main political actors,” he wrote.
“For some, chiefly the League and the 5SM, there is an additional incentive to wait a bit longer; on 22 April regional elections will be held in the Southern Molise region, where the 5SM candidate looks favourite based on opinion polls, and on 29 April in the Northern Friuli Venezia Giulia region, where a united centre-right coalition backs a candidate form the League,” Pizzoli added.
“A blow-up of the centre-right coalition at the national level just before the regional votes would be politically inopportune.”
It remains entirely unclear when Italy will get a government, and when it will get one.
But for the time being, a coalition between the Five Star Movement and the Lega Nord seems the most likely outcome.
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