April 11, 2018
Towards a Five Star-Lega government?
Much is being made in Italy of the choice by Sergio Mattarella to meet political leaders for a second round of government consultations in the order of party size without regard to pre-election coalitions, which means Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement will meet the president last. Normally an Italian president does not need more than two rounds of consultations to nominate a prime minister, and the last person to be called is usually given the mandate. But not this time. The president's office has clarified that the order is the result of the realisation that the centre-right coalition is not negotiating as a unified bloc, and so it makes sense to consider the parties as independent entities. Marcio Breda, in his analysis at Corriere, notes that a third round of consultations risk not being taken seriously by the public, and so Mattarella would be considering options to avoid it, including giving an exploratory mandate to someone other than the party leaders to broker a compromise to support a government.
The situation is that Five Star and Lega have been making approaches on their respective programmes, but there is a rivalry between their two young and ambitious leaders, Di Maio and Matteo Salvini. Berlusconi, who came out of last month's election diminished, still wants to play a protagonist role. And the PD, mired in confusion about whether to go into opposition or support a Five Star government, is being courted by both Five Star and Berlusconi. Party leaders are asking for more time, and Mattarella might oblige by inventing some mechanism to a parenthesis of maybe two weeks, such as the wise men committee on reforms that Giorgio Napolitano used to gain time in 2013. Still, the possibility of a Five Star-Lega government continues to be the most likely. Proposing a third person could put pressure on Di Maio and Salvini to reach an understanding.