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Italy: M5S rejects 'final offer' from far-right leader

Lewis Sanders IV
May 3, 2018

Far-right leader Matteo Salvini had made a "last offer" for a coalition government that would resist EU policies. But the euroskeptic Five Star Movement has refused to budge, saying it wants fresh elections instead.

Luigi Di Maio, leader of M5S
Luigi Di Maio said that a return to the ballot box was the only real optionImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/ANSA/N. Lanese

Five Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio on Thursday rejected a "final offer" for an anti-establishment coalition government from the leader of the far-right Northern League, Matteo Salvini.

"It is not possible to form any government of change with [former Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi and the right-of-center bloc," said Di Maio. "Salvini, who continues to re-propose this solution, is making fun of Italians."

Read more: Luigi Di Maio: The populist leader eyeing Rome

The 32-year-old left-of-center leader instead proposed fresh elections, saying: "The only solution is to return to the ballot box."

No government in sight

Since inconclusive elections in March, Italy has been embroiled in a political crisis, with the country's political parties unable to reach a compromise to form a government.

Although Di Maio's left-wing euroskeptic M5S led the election with 32 percent of the vote, Salvini's Northern League heads a right-of-center coalition that managed to secure a combined 37 percent. But both political forces failed to reach the 40 percent necessary to govern.

Read more: Italy's 5 Star Movement feeds on voters

M5S campaigned on an anti-corruption and euroskeptic platform. They have refused to enter into negotiations on a coalition government that would include Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia, saying he represents everything they are against.

'Everything possible'

Salvini said on Wednesday that he was "humbly available" to discuss an agenda that would include reforms to pensions, education, the judiciary and the tax system.

The far-right leader has argued that his Northern League and M5S could come together to resist EU policies as an anti-establishment government that he would lead. But Salvini has said that such a government would also include his allies, among them Forza Italia.

Read more: Matteo Salvini: Italy's far-right success story

"I will do everything possible until the last minute to give Italians a government that will last five years and deal with this country's emergency," said Salvini, who campaigned on a platform that threatened to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini has urged the M5S to take his offer and form a government that he would lead as prime ministerImage: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/A. Ronchini

Elections 'most plausible outcome'

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has resisted calls for an early election. Daily newspaper Il Corriere della Sera reported that Mattarella wants a budget approved before calling new elections, and that requires a government.

Read more: Opinion: Italy's election results highlight a European trend

Analysts believe that Mattarella will likely push for a stopgap government that would have a limited mandate until December. In the event that no political leader emerges to form a government, Mattarella may handpick one to form a consensus government for a limited mandate.

But the likely outcome is fresh elections, which could take place before December, according to analysts. "As things stand, we see new elections as the most plausible outcome," political analyst Federico Santi of the New York-based Eurasia Group told The Associated Press.