Friday, 22 June, 2018

Italy far-right leader says has 'right and duty' to form government

GETTY•EPAThe recent election campaign has been more populaist and more anti-EU than any other election GETTY•EPAThe recent election campaign has been more populaist and more anti-EU than any other election
Jodi Jackson | 07 March, 2018, 00:29

"Today a good path begins", League's leader Matteo Salvini told a press conference in Milan.

Italy is facing a populist uprising after a surge in support for anti-European parties in Sunday's parliamentary election, however no party received enough votes to rule alone meaning the country will likely enter a period of political deadlock.

Italy is now governed by a centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party, but this was lagging in the polls with 24.5% to 27.5% of the vote. Ten-year Italian government notes yielded 2 percent at the end of trading Monday, which was lower than a week earlier. As La Stampa splashed on its front page today: "Di Maio wins, Italy ungovernable".

By contrast, Salvini and Berlusconi - heading for nearly 18 per cent and 14 per cent respectively - appeared to have dominated the wealthier north, with the centre-left squeezed into a narrow stretch of central Italy.

According to the results released by Italy's interior ministry, a center-right coalition that included Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and the anti-immigrant League won about 37 percent of the vote.

The coalition is expected to be launched next week.

Tajani will now have to battle coalition partner Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League, for the leadership of the centre-right bloc and to be in a position to be nominated as Italy's next prime minister. While the League still says it wants to leave the single currency at the earliest feasible moment, the 5-Star says the time for quitting the euro has passed.

Andrea Marcucci, one of the ravaged Democratic Party's (PD) lawmakers, said: "The populists have won and the Democratic Party has lost".

Minutes later, the head of the biggest single party, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said it was ready to take on a responsible leadership role.

In L'Espresso weekly's online edition Marco Damilano wrote: "On the night of March 4, the winners are (Five Star Movement leader Luigi) Di Maio and Salvini".

The big question for the 5-Star Movement after its strong results is whether to stick to its policy of not forming alliances with other parties. However, Italy has a long history of finding a way out of apparently intractable political stalemate.

The center-left failed to convince voters with its pro-European message of gradual economic recovery while the anti-immigrant and euro skeptic League party of Matteo Salvini gained huge ground.

The success of populist parties in Italy's elections has unnerved investors, amid fears voters' move towards the fringes of the political spectrum is likely to spark a jump in government spending. "Be prepared for long and complex negotiations", said Lorenzo Codogno, a former chief economist at the Italian Treasury.

The Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, the League party and the Brothers of Italy have campaigned on issues relating to illegal immigration. The process, brokered by Italian president Sergio Mattarella, might take weeks.

As of noon local time, the turnout was a little over 19 percent, Reuters reported, higher than five years ago where Italians voted over the course of two days. While the two are rivals, if they joined together, analysts have called that a "nightmare scenario" for the European Union and the financial markets.

However, Salvini's latest declaration appears to have ruled out that possibility.

The ruling left of the PD, which has been characterized as an ostrich with its head in the sand, ignoring Italy's migrant crisis on the one hand and its catastrophic economic predicament on the other, fell to its lowest level in decades, essentially confirming predictions of a "collapse" of the establishment left.

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