In Italy not much progress has been registered in the feat of forming a government in Italy. The second round of consultations proved inconclusive. President Mattarella warned that the country needs to have a government in the fullness of its powers.”He cited the “urgency” created by the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and until Friday the prospect of U.S. airstrikes against Syria as well as a European Council meeting in June.
“From the way these days’ consultations went it has clearly emerged that the talks between political parties to give life in Parliament to a majority to back a government has not made progress. I will wait a few days to decide how to proceed to get out of the stalemate,” he said.
Parties have been negotiating indirectly through the media since March 4 general election. The two ‘winners’, the anti-migrant, Euroskeptic League led by Matteo Salvini and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) led by Luigi Di Maio, have been leading the media dance.
Salvini got 17.5% on March 4 to overtake ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi‘s centre-right Forza Italia who got 14%, as top party on the centre right and become its premier candidate. The centre-right coalition, which also includes the small nationalist Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, came out as top alliance with 37% of the vote.
The M5S got 32.5%, becoming the top individual party by far and beating the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) of Premier Paolo Gentiloni into a distant second place. The PD got 18%, its worst-ever showing, prompting ex-premier Matteo Renzi to resign as party leader – although he has so far imposed his line of now remaining in opposition.
Italian News Agency Ansa reports that Di Maio, for his part, says he must be premier and has proposed a government contract either to the League or the PD, saying that Salvini must dump Berlusconi to be a viable partner for change. Salvini, who has said he is not insisting on being premier, is staying loyal to the three-time former premier and has said he is fed up with Di Maio’s vetoes. Di Maio has tried to entice the PD but the former governing party, now led by caretaker leader Maurizio Martina, has repeated it will stay in opposition and lick its wounds. With the stalemate continuing, Mattarella may try to give a so-called ‘exploratory’ mandate to someone above the fray.
An institutional figure such as FI’s Senate Speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati has been touted in some parts. So has the League’s deputy leader and Lower House Whip, Giancarlo Giorgetti.
In a show of unity, the leaders of the three parties in the center-right bloc met with Mattarella on Thursday. But cracks showed as the 81-year-old Berlusconi pantomimed as Salvini read political priorities from a statement, clearly not pleased to be on the sidelines. Then, after ushering Salvini and the Brothers of Italy chief away, Berlusconi grabbed the microphone and made another swipe at the 5-Star Movement just moments after Salvini had made an opening to them.
“Do your job well,” Berlusconi told journalists. “Know how to distinguish who is a democrat and who doesn’t know the ABC’s of democracy. “
Di Maio said Berlusconi’s “bad joke” at their expense “demonstrated that the center-right still hopes” to form a government with the center-left Democratic Party — something that Salvini has expressly ruled out.