Five Star Movement rejects Berlusconi before formal talks

Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio said he was not open to talks with Forza Italy or the Far-Right League, ahead of formal talks with president Sergio Mattarella

Five Star Movement leader, Luigi Di Maio
Five Star Movement leader, Luigi Di Maio

Italy’s Five Star Movement has ruled out joining a coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, a day before formal government consultations begin.

Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio has said he was open to talks with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD)- except with former secretary Matteo Renzi – and the far-right League, but not with Forza Italia.

Until now, Five Star had said it was ready to talk to all parties following the 4 March national election which ended in a hung parliament.

The move will heighten tensions between the two parties, which are partners in a centre-right coalition that won the most seats in parliament.

“The coalition that won the most votes is the centre-right and this is our starting point,” the League leader, Matteo Salvini, said on Facebook. “We will dialogue with Five Star, but reject vetoes or commands.”

In the election, the Five Star followed the centre right but was the single largest party, and the PD was third, but no one has enough seats to govern alone.

The PD’s Senate leader, Andrea Marcucci did not agree with Five Star, tweeting, “The Five Star leader’s proposal is unacceptable.”

Though the sources did not say what reason Di Maio gave for rejecting Forza Italia, the Five Star Movement has always been hostile to Berlusconi because the party has vowed to clean up Italian politics. Berlusconi has a conviction for tax fraud and is on trial in another case for allegedly bribing witnesses.

On Wednesday, President Segio Mattarella will begin formal consultations to try to get rivals to seek common ground and form a government. He will meet the main parties, including Five Star, on Thursday.

But more consultations could be held later and the process could take weeks. If no deal can be found, Mattarella may be forced to call a new election.

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