Italy’s M5S pushes for coalition with Democratic Party but spectre of election loom

Embattled Italian PM Giuseppe Conte says he expects coalition talks between the Five Star Movement (M5S) and its former adversary

italian coalition

Photo: Paolo Giandotti/Reuters

Embattled Italian PM Giuseppe Conte says he expects coalition talks between the Five Star Movement (M5S) and its former adversary the Democratic Party (PD) to be finalised today.

Mr Conte scrambled to form a new government after Northern League leader Matteo Salvini decided to sever his party’s ruling coalition with the populist M5S after tensions ruptured the 14-month-old alliance. Yesterday M5S and PD unveiled a shared policy programme for a new coalition, preventing, at least for now, President Sergio from dissolving parliament and setting a date for fresh elections.

Mr Salvini’s Northern League has been pushing for new elections, hoping a recent surge in popularity and a growing dissatisfaction with M5S will allow it to govern without its previous coalition partner. Although the latest polls have seen an uptick in popular support for M5S, the League maintains a commanding lead of almost 15 percentage points.

If a new coalition is finalised and the government survives, the M5S and PD will likely avert probable losses to be incurred if a snap election was to be held today. M5S is wary of confronting the Northern League in fresh elections, fearing a right-wing sweep might reverse the historic gains won by the populists in the March 2018 election.

Amid a sense of betrayal over Mr Salvini’s manoeuvring, M5S certainly has an incentive to work with the PD—a traditional force in Italian politics that suffered significant losses in 2018. Nevertheless, considerable differences between the two over policy and ministerial roles may yet derail negotiations long enough to bring on a snap election and satisfy Matteo Salvini.

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