Friday, May 11, 2018

Italy rightwingers, populists in gov't-formation talks after Berlusconi steps aside

Italy rightwingers, populists in gov't-formation talks
The rightwing League and the populist Five Star Movement said in a joint statement late on Thursday that they have made significant progress in talks for the formation of a new government.

The two forces sat down to talk on Thursday morning after League ally Silvio Berlusconi essentially gave them the green light by stepping aside on Wednesday night, relinquishing his claim to any cabinet seats for his conservative Forza Italia party.

The League-Forza Italia coalition won the most votes in a March national election at roughly 37 percent.

The anti-corruption Five Stars, which came in second at 32.5 percent, offered to form a government with the League on condition it ditches scandal-tainted Berlusconi, who has been convicted of tax fraud and is a defendant in various trials concerning alleged orgies at his home while he was still prime minister of Italy.

"With today's meeting we have laid the bases to write a government contract between the Five Star Movement and the League," the joint statement said. "It was a very positive meeting, which showed that we are completely on the same wavelength."

The statement added that the two sides agreed on some joint issues, such as rolling back an unpopular pension reform that raised the retirement age, introducing a basic income and a flat tax, cutting the costs of politics, and fighting corruption.

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