Italy's Berlusconi says centre-right must lead next government

Elias Hubbard
April 8, 2018

Anti-establishment and far-right leaders will jostle for power on Thursday as they meet with the president for talks on who can lead a new Italian government.

The right-wing coalition led by the League that also includes former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party won 37 percent of the vote. Di Maio will be the last leader to speak with Mattarella at 1430 GMT.

However earlier on Thursday Salvini reiterated his loyalty to his coalition, saying he wanted to bring a "solid" right-wing group to government.

Mr Martina, who replaced Matteo Renzi after he quit following the electoral defeat, had already ruled out the possibility of joining a coalition with Five Star Movement after the party leader Luigi Di Maio said he was open to negotiating with them.

After the consultations Italy's president will take some time to decide who, if anyone, can command enough seats to form a government or whether a fresh round of consultations is necessary.

The right needs 51 more seats in the 630-seat Chamber and 23 in the Senate - which holds 318 seats - in order to form a stable majority.

Another roadblock in the way of a new government is the mutual antipathy between Berlusconi and the M5S.

As Italy's president starts talks with political leaders in a bid to break a monthlong deadlock, Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio proposed a government contract with either his fellow populists of the League or the ruling Democratic Party, in an interview with La7 television on Tuesday night, but he also set out his red line: no deal with Berlusconi.

In the meantime Di Maio and Salvini will continue their negotiations.

Berlusconi is firmly against some of the M5S's flagship policies, such as the proposal for a basic income which would extend to nine million people.

Despite being partners with eurosceptic Salvini, Berlusconi spoke of a commitment to Europe that stood in stark contrast to the anti-EU tub-thumping favoured by the League.

European Parliament head Antonio Tajani, who was Berlusconi's pick for prime minister before the elections, accused Di Maio of "anti-democratic methods" in an interview with RAI radio Wednesday, adding he "fails to show respect for the nearly five million citizens" who voted for Forza Italia. "Whether to leave Berlusconi and change Italy or whether to stay with him and not change anything", said Di Maio.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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