Right-winger Matteo Salvini claims right to form next Italian government

Matteo Salvini from the right-wing Lega is insisting he should be given the first chance to form a government after his party got the most votes within Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition • Hung parliament could lead to deadlock

Lega's Matteo Salvini will get the right to form a government
Lega's Matteo Salvini will get the right to form a government

Matteo Salvini has laid claim to the premiership in Italy after his right-wing party obtained the most votes within the centre-right coalition.

Lega received 17.6% of the vote, ahead of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which obtained 14%.

In his reaction to the electoral result, Salvini said Lega had the “right and duty” to govern at the head of a right-wing coalition. He ruled out forming what he described as “strange coalitions”, insisting he was committed to the centre-right bloc.

Sunday’s election returned a hung parliament. While the Movimento Cinque Stelle emerged as the single largest party with 32.4% of the vote, the centre-right coalition (Lega, Forza Italia and Fratelli d’Italia) obtained 37.3%.

The centre-left coalition led by the Partito Democratico only managed 22.9% of the vote with the PD being the only party in the grouping to elect seats.

The result means that the centre-right coalition gets the first chance to form a government but it will need support from other parties to do so. It remains unclear whether the Cinque Stelle will play ball given that they will be second in line with the right to form a government. The PD is also unlikely to offer its support to a coalition that includes Lega.

Speculation has been rife that Salvini may opt out of the centre-right coalition and form a government with the Cinque Stelle.

However, Salvini’s latest declaration appears to have ruled out that possibility. It will take weeks of political horse trading to form a government, if at all. The numbers in parliament could mean deadlock will ensue.

Lega’s strength within the centre-right coalition has put Salvini in pole position to become the next prime minister, a prospect that many in Europe will look at with trepidation.

Salvini’s party is Eurosceptic and has been critical of the euro currency.

“We will work to modify and remove certain European parameters. I am convinced that the euro is destined to end, not because I want it to but because facts, common sense and the real economy show this. And we want to be prepared for that eventuality,” Salvini said on Monday.

Bad news for Malta

However, Salvini's good showing could also spell bad news for Malta. The Lega has adopted a hard line stand on immigration, making it a central electoral plank. Italy will stop taking in all rescued migrants under a centre-right government, which can only mean a return of migrant boats in Malta.

Additionally, with the rise of Salvini and Cinque Stelle, Malta would have lost its traditional interlocutors within Italy's traditional mainstream parties, making it necessary to rebuild communication channels.

Italy’s electoral map is a clear-cut split between the northern regions dominated by the centre-right and the southern regions dominated by Cinque Stelle.

The PD’s demise saw it lose traditional left-leaning regions to both Cinque Stelle and the centre-right.

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