Government formation in italy: “neutral government” planned

The president has reached the end of his patience. Talks with the parties failed to produce an agreement. A "neutral government" is to lead to new elections.

Maurizio Martina (M), acting PD secretary, Andrea Marcucci (l) and Graziano Delrio after a meeting with Mattarella Photo: dpa

Two months after the election, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella has declared the formation of a government between the parties a failure. A "neutral government" must lead the country to new elections, Mattarella said Monday in Rome after talks with the country’s political forces. He said the latter had given him to understand during the day that they were not ready to enter into coalitions. He had ruled out a minority government as a solution from the start.

Since the March 4 election, the parties have been fighting over who can lead the country. Three political blocs are irreconcilably opposed to each other, lacking the majority to govern – and also the will to come together.

The previously governing Social Democrats of the PD had not even achieved 19 percent and did not want to cooperate with either the one or the other "election winner." The Five Star Protest Movement had become the strongest single party with more than 32 percent. The center-right alliance, which includes Matteo Salvini’s right-wing populist Lega and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, came in at around 37 percent and would also have needed outside support.

However, the Five Star Movement denied them this support. It wanted the scandal-plagued Berlusconi to leave the alliance first. However, the center-right resisted this until the very end.

At least the budget law is to be passed

The talks between the political forces in recent weeks had shown how deep the rifts between the parties are. The first two rounds of negotiations led by the president had ended without results. And the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies commissioned by Mattarella for further exploratory talks did not make any progress either.

A "presidential government" was therefore Mattarella’s preferred and ultimately last option. With this option, Mattarella also wants to reduce the risk that at the end of an early new election there will be a similarly muddled situation as there is now. The government would at least have to pass the important budget law and possibly also push through a new electoral law. In addition, an important EU summit is scheduled for June in Brussels, where the refugee crisis and reforms in the eurozone are to be discussed.

The Lega and the Five Star had already indicated on Monday that they did not want to express confidence in the "neutral government" envisaged by the president. Instead, they called for a new election on July 8.

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