Italy’s president is meeting party leaders to see if an alternative government can be formed after the collapse of an alliance between the League and the Five Star Movement (M5S).
Sergio Mattarella was to meet the heads of the small far-right party Brothers of Italy, the centre-left Democratic party (PD) and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia in the morning on Thursday and the League and M5S in the late afternoon.
The most credible option for a new majority in parliament is a coalition between M5S and the PD. The parties are in talks to come up with a programme that could steer the government through until the end of its legislative term in 2023.
The PD leader, Nicola Zingaretti, who until Wednesday had resisted talk of the potential alliance, outlined five key conditions for a deal with M5S, including a change in policy on the management of migrants, a commitment to remaining in the EU, more investment, changes to social and economic policy and a focus on sustainable development.
Zingaretti told reporters after the meeting that he was willing to explore a government with M5S but “not at any cost”.
“We need a turning-point government, alternative to the rightist parties, with a new, solid programme, an ample parliamentary base, which will restore hope to Italians,” he added. “If these conditions do not exist, the natural outcome of the crisis is an early election for which the PD is ready.”
Mattarella could give the parties a few more days to negotiate if he is convinced they can form a strong government. They would need to nominate a prime minister by Monday.
The outgoing prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, ended the stormy 14-month alliance between the far-right League and M5S on Tuesday. The League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, had declared the partnership unworkable this month as he manoeuvred to exploit his rising popularity and attempted to bring about snap elections.
Italian media reported on Thursday that Mattarella would probably opt for early elections if M5S and the PD failed to come to an agreement. There were also reports that Salvini could try to backtrack and continue the coalition with M5S, fearing being pushed into opposition.