Following the breakdown of the ruling Italian populist coalition, the country’s main party, the Democratic Party (PD) said it was ready to hold negotiations with a long-time political rival, the Five-Star party.
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The PD’s proposal came Wednesday as part of an attempt to avoid any early elections that could bring the League, led by the Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini, to power. If such a scenario were to be realized, Italy would be governed by the first fully far-right administration in western Europe since World War II.
The leader of the PD, Nicola Zingaretti, said the members of his party were all united and in favor of negotiations with the Five Star Movement. However, a coalition would be expected to be solid and to last for the next three years, until the end of the legislature in 2023, otherwise, it would be better to hold elections now, he stressed.
Zingaretti mentioned five unquestionable conditions to set up a deal, including a shift from the zero-tolerance policy towards the migrants and refugees, pro-European policies, and a focus on improving living standards.
The leader of the Five-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has not yet commented on whether his party is willing to discuss with the PD over a possible alliance.
Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, who will hold consultations on Thursday with leaders of the main parties, gave them two days to find an alternative, otherwise, he would have to dissolve parliament, three and half years ahead of schedule, to allow for autumn elections.
After the last elections in 2018, the two parties who have always had tense relationships were unable to reach an agreement to govern. But last week, they joined with each other to reject Salvini’s bid.
The League was apparently not expecting the cooperation between the PD and Five-Star.
"We hadn't expected there'd be such a quick agreement between the Democratic Party and the Five Star," said Gian Marco Centinaio, who is close to Salvini and is the League's agriculture minister in the government.
Salvini, whose popularity is surging in the polls, plunged the country in a political crisis earlier this month when he declared that his party's one-year-old coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star movement "unworkable." He then requested snap elections, and the move led to the resignation of Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte on Tuesday, impeding thus a no-confidence vote aimed at toppling the government.
Regarding the possible coalition by the PD and the Five -Star Movement, Salvini said that Italians should have their word concerning who governs the state.