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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Italian Democratic Party considers Five Star deal to end deadlock

The far-right League party came first in a coalition that recorded 37 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s election

Luigi Di Maio celebrates with his supporters of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. EPA/CIRO FUSCO
Luigi Di Maio celebrates with his supporters of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. EPA/CIRO FUSCO

Senior members of Italy’s vanquished Democratic Party on Tuesday eyed a possible deal with the triumphant Five Star Movement, following an election that left the country with a hung parliament and anti-establishment and far-right parties vying to form a government.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League, the biggest party in the right-wing coalition that came first with 37 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s election but failed to win an overall majority, said his team was ready to govern.

“We have a programme, a team. If they call us, we’ll start work tomorrow morning,” he told reporters.

But Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, declared his party “the winners”, after obtaining alone nearly 33 per cent of the vote, but M5S would also need to form alliances in parliament to gain a majority.

Meanwhile Matteo Renzi, who announced his resignation as Democratic Party (PD) leader on Monday after his centre-left coalition in the election slumped to third place on 23 per cent, ruled out the prospect of a deal with either the Five Star Movement or the right-wing alliance.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday Renzi said he would not work with those who “have insulted us for years and who represent the opposite of our values”.

“They’ve said that we’re corrupt, mafiosi and that we have blood on our hands due to immigration. I don’t believe that they’ve suddenly changed their minds,” wrote the former prime minister.

“If anyone wants to support the right-wing or the Five Star Movement they should say so. I personally think it would be a glaring and tragic mistake,” he added.

However, other leading voices in his party disagree and he now faces pressure to bring forward his resignation.

In an interview with Il Fatto Quotidiano daily, Michele Emiliano, governor of the Puglia region and a leading PD member, berated Renzi for not stepping down immediately and “impeding the party from supporting the M5S”.

Italy’s vote has drawn comparisons with the Brexit referendum in Britain and the election of US President Donald Trump because of the anti-immigration and anti-establishment rhetoric, raising concern in European capitals about instability.

Mr Salvini overtook coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy) party after promising to deport hundreds of thousands of “irregular” migrants, and railing against the European Union and its “failed currency”.

On Tuesday Mr Salvini said that the right “was the number one coalition and the hope for Italians” and he was open to negotiate with anyone who “shares our programme”.

At the same time, he ruled out any “old-style political or cross-party agreement” and refused any alliance with the M5S.

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