Italy's political situation still stalled
17 Apr 2018, 21:48 ( 6 days ago)
Italy's political situation continued in a stall Tuesday with leading parties unable to break the impasse that has reigned since a March 4 general election divided parliament into three main blocs, none of which has enough votes to form a government on its own.
These are a center-right bloc led by Matteo Salvini of the rightwing League, the populist Five Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio, and the center-left Democratic Party of outgoing Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Both Di Maio and Salvini, whose parties won 32.5 percent and 37 percent of the vote respectively, claim the right to lead the next government of Italy.
However on Tuesday, Salvini said he would be open to a "third figure" as prime minister, as long as he or she agrees to the League's program of rolling back pension reform, cracking down on immigration and introducing a 15 percent flat tax.
"If there is someone clever who subscribes to a program I can share, why not," Salvini said in televised comments. "Unlike Di Maio, I am not here to say either I get to be prime minister, or no deal."
Meanwhile a Five Star MP said the Movement will only back a government of "change" -- meaning it will make a deal with the League as long as it dumps its ally, Silvio Berlusconi and his Forza Italia party. The Five Star Movement objects to Berlusconi because he was expelled from parliament in 2013 following a tax fraud conviction.
The Democratic Party, which got 20 percent of the vote, reiterated it will stay in the opposition. "We leave personal clashes and tactical power grabs to others," Democratic interim secretary Maurizio Martina wrote on Facebook.
President Sergio Mattarella, who has the power to name a prime minister, has been mulling his options since a second round of government formation talks last week failed to produce a workable majority. He is expected to make a choice within the next 24-48 hours.
The consensus among media pundits is that he will either confer a so-called "exploratory mandate" on one of the speakers of the houses of parliament; or pick one of the two relative winners, entrusting either Salvini or Di Maio with a "pre-mandate" to sound out a possible majority.
Whoever gets the job of prime minister must in turn win a confidence vote in both houses of parliament before he or she is confirmed in office.
The "exploratory mandate" option is not new in Italy, according to ANSA news agency. It has been used seven times before: in 1957, 1960, 1968, 1986, 1987, 1989, and 2008.
It is also not unusual for Italy to undergo long periods between the end of one government and the formation of a new one.
The longest was after the end of the Lamberto Dini administration in 1996, when it took 127 days for a new government to emerge. In 2013, 61 days passed between the election and the birth of the Enrico Letta government.