Salvini sets conditions to Draghi as government-formation talks continue

Photo: EPA Matteo Salvini

Italy’s nationalist League leader Matteo Salvini said on Thursday that premier-designate Mario Draghi must choose between the proposals of anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) founder Beppe Grillo including a wealth tax on the super-rich and the League's proposals on cutting taxes, ANSA reported.

"Draghi will have to choose between Grillo's requests and ours which are the opposite," he said ahead of government-formation talks with the former European Central bank President on Saturday.

Salvini's statement was seen as signalling that the League would not join a majority including the M5S, its former partner in government.

The M5S is showing more willingness than initially to back Draghi while Salvini has said he will support the ex-ECB chief if he vows to lead Italy to elections later this year that the centre right expects to win. Draghi is looking to the longer term.

Premier-designate Mario Draghi started talks with Italy's political parties on Thursday after President Sergio Mattarella handed him a mandate to try and form a new government.

Outgoing Premier Giuseppe Conte quit last week after the centrist Italia Viva (IV) party pulled its support for his executive, depriving it of a majority in the Senate.

Draghi, who said Wednesday that his priorities will be defeating the COVID-19 pandemic and "relaunching" the country, must now see if an eventual government led by him will have a working majority in parliament.

The consultations with the parties are expected to last a couple of days. It is not certain that a Draghi government would be able to enjoy a comfortable majority. Draghi envisions a cabinet made up of non-political technocrats like himself, sources said. But the parties of the former ruling coalition are reportedly pushing for a cabinet made of a mix of experts and political figures, ANSA reported.

Ex-premier and IV leader Matteo Renzi has welcomed the decision to give Draghi a mandate. Two other parties in what was the ruling alliance, the centre-left Democratic Party (PC) and the left-wing LeU group, may well back it too. But the other former coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement (M5S), has said it wants a "political" executive. There is also speculation that the divisions within the M5S could lead to a full-blown split.

Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) appears ready to cooperate with Draghi. While the right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI) has reiterated that it wants elections as soon as possible.

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