Italy faces fresh elections after coalition talks fail

Both the Five Star Movement, which emerged as the largest political party after the March election, and the Lega, which was part of the Berlusconi coalition, have said Italy should go for an election next month 

Italy's President said that the only two options left were to either hold new elections or to have a neutral takeover. (Photo:BBC)
Italy's President said that the only two options left were to either hold new elections or to have a neutral takeover. (Photo:BBC)

Italy’s coalition-building talks have failed, leaving the country facing new elections or a neutral caretaker government until the end of the year.

No single party or alliance won a majority in the March general election, creating a political deadlock in the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

Following the latest round of talks aimed at forming a coalition, the biggest single party, the anti-establishment Five Star movement, could not agree on joining forces either with the right-wing alliance of Forza Italia and The League or with the centre-left Democratic Party.

Previous attempts to break the deadlock since the inconclusive result on 4 March also came to nothing, with the parties' starting positions reportedly remaining unchanged.

President Sergio Mattarella said on Monday that the only two options left after a third unsuccessful round of negotiations were to either hold new elections or have a neutral takeover.

The most influential parties, Five Star and The League, favour a new vote in July. Mattarella has the final say.

A repeat election within months would be unprecedented in postwar Italy, which endured decades of governmental instability.

In a televised public statement on Monday, Mattarella urged party leaders to rally behind a "neutral government" after conceding that there would be no coalition deal.

"We can't wait any longer," he said.

"Let the parties decide of their own free will if they should give full powers to a government... or else new elections in the month of July or the autumn."

Such a government would run until the end of the year and would then dissolve ahead of elections to be held at the start of 2019, Mattarella added.

A caretaker administration would be made up of policy experts appointed by the president.

Both Five Star and the League have ruled out supporting a national unity government involving all of the country’s political parties for an extended period of time.

“The election campaign starts today,” Luigi Di Maio, the 31-year-old Five Star leader said in a video message on his Facebook page after meeting Mr Mattarella. “I’m asking the citizens to send us to govern with a vote, I don’t see any other possibility.”

Matteo Salvini, the League leader, emerged from his meeting with Mattarella demanding his own mandate to form a government alongside Forza Italia, the centre-right party of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Brothers of Italy, another populist far-right ally.

“I will try … to give this country a government but if it is not possible Di Maio and I agree we should vote on July 8,” Salvini said.

People close to the negotiations in Rome said the July 8 date may be too early, but it was possible a vote could happen later in the month if Mattarella moved to dissolve parliament in the coming weeks.


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