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League ready to make a deal with Berlusconi

by Ace Damon
League ready to make a deal with Berlusconi – POLITICO

The League’s Matteo Salvini is ready to resume an alliance with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to relaunch the center-right in preparation for a possible snap election in Italy, stealing a potential ally from those who want to avoid a ballot.

“In the next hours I will see Berlusconi and [leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy Giorgia] Meloni,” Salvini said Monday in an interview with il Giornale, a right-wing daily owned by the Berlusconi family.

He said he will “propose a deal” that aims to go “beyond the old center-right,” adding “there are good realities made by good mayors and good local officials.” That could include the coalition putting forward so-called “civic lists,” orientated around local officials, to gain votes.

Salvini last week pulled the plug on the Italian government, a coalition between his far-right League and the anti-establishment 5Star Movement, raising the prospect of a snap election in the fall.

Salvini told il Giornale that any deal between center-right parties would not include “those who are available to team up with Renzi.”

Officials from the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and the 5Stars said over the weekend that the parties could team up in a bid to create an alternative caretaker government to last through until next spring, a push being spearheaded by former PD Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Salvini’s move Monday would make that more difficult since such an alliance would likely require the support of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

Salvini told il Giornale that any deal between center-right parties would not include “those who are available to team up with Renzi.”

Officials from the country’s parliamentary parties are expected to meet this afternoon to decide when parliament will discuss a proposed motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

However, with the League topping opinion polls, Salvini has said several times he wants an election as soon as possible. If officials decide not to reconvene parliament soon — now closed for the summer break — Salvini could withdraw the League’s ministers from the government to push for elections without the need for a confidence vote.

The push by the League to capitalize on its success — the party received 34 percent of votes in the European Parliament election, up from 17 percent in the March 2018 election — has left the country’s center-left parties scrambling.

Renzi, a former party leader who last year opposed any alliance with the 5Stars, said in an interview on Sunday that “voting now would be crazy,” while voicing the idea of a possible coalition. That proposal could split the party, given it is opposed by the current party leader Nicola Zingaretti.

The 5Stars also appear to have been forced into a U-turn: Despite denying any chance of an alliance with Renzi’s party, the 5Stars founder Beppe Grillo on Saturday called for a coalition to stop the League, which he described as “barbarians,” although he didn’t reference the PD.

Both the 5 Stars and Renzi have strong reasons to oppose an election since both risk seeing their numbers in parliament dramatically reduced.

Zingaretti, however, is in favor of elections, which could enable him to gain control of parliamentary groups now in the hands of Renzi.

A united right-wing grouping combining the League with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the far-right of Brothers of Italy would be almost impossible for the opposition to stop. According to predictions of the makeup of the lower chamber of parliament published Saturday by Il Corriere Della Sera, such a coalition could secure 413 seats out a total 0f 618.

The center-left would have 115 seats — one more than currently — while the number of 5Stars MPs would collapse from 216 to 88.

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