Italian politicians launch bid to keep new elections, Salvini at bay | News | DW | 21.08.2019
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Italian politicians launch bid to keep new elections, Salvini at bay

Worried about the possibility of far-right leader Matteo Salvini taking power, Italy's main opposition party opened the door on talks to form a new government, but it warned that "loyal membership" to the EU is a must.

Italy's main opposition Democratic Party (PD) said on Wednesday that it was open to making a deal with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement as the Italian president began talks with political leaders on how to steer the country out of its current political crisis.

PD leader Nicola Zingaretti said his center-left party was "united" in forming a coalition with the Five Star Movement — if certain conditions are met.

Any agreement would need to guarantee the "loyal membership" of the European Union, a change in handling migrants, environmental sustainability and policies to boost investment.

"If these conditions are taken on board in the coming days based on a necessary discontinuity and on a broad parliamentary base, we are willing to take on the responsibility of creating a government of change for the whole legislature," he said.

President holds talks

The offer comes a day after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned from his post, blaming far-right League leader Matteo Salvini for trying to trigger early elections.

The move ended the 14-month-old populist government, comprised of Salvini's League and the Five Star Movement.

On Wednesday, Italian President Sergio Mattarella launched two days of talks with party leaders to try and find a solution to the political crisis.

He is not expected to meet with the main parties, however, until Thursday.

If a new coalition cannot be formed, fresh elections are likely to be called possibly for as early as October: A snap election would likely benefit Salvini, whose League has seen an uptick in support in recent opinion polls.

PD and other Italian parties are worried about safeguarding Italy's fragile economy, as the country needs to approve a budget in the next few months or face a rise in value-added tax that could possibly sink the country into a recession.

Watch video 03:49

Reforms unlikely with Salvini as Italian leader

rs/sms   (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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