Time running out for negotiations on new Italian coalition government
August 28 2019 12:07 PM
Italian President Sergio Mattarella
Italian President Sergio Mattarella


Italy's Five Star Movement (M5S) and Democratic Party (PD) renewed efforts Wednesday to work out a coalition deal ahead of a looming deadline for an agreement.

President Sergio Mattarella is ending in the evening a two-day round of consultations with political leaders: if there is no M5S-PD agreement by then, he is expected to opt for snap elections.

The parliamentary leaders of the M5S and PD were holding talks in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, Italian news agencies ANSA and Adnkronos said.

An M5S-PD government is seen as the only alternative to early elections, probably in November, which far-right leader Matteo Salvini would be favourite to win.

Salvini, who heads the poll-leading League party, triggered the government crisis earlier this month by ending a 14-month coalition with the M5S.

The M5S and PD want to sideline Salvini into opposition, but the two parties have been bitter rivals, making their alliance difficult and potentially shaky.

In the last days, the M5S has managed to convince the PD that outgoing premier Giuseppe Conte should be reappointed as leader of the new alliance, but two other stumbling blocks remain.

The M5S insists that their leader, Luigi Di Maio, should retain a position as deputy premier, and that the final green light to the alliance should depend on an online vote by M5S party members.

‘If there is a prime minister from the Five Star Movement, it's fair that there should be a deputy premier of the Democratic Party,’ PD deputy leader Andrea Orlando said.

As for the online vote, Di Maio said late Wednesday it should take place ‘by next week’ on the M5S' online platform Rousseau, whose workings have been criticized for lack of transparency.

It is unclear how the M5S vote could fit with Mattarella's tight deadline. It would be ‘unacceptable’ if it interfered with the president's decisions, Orlando said.

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