Italy's Five Star Is Said to Consider Jobs-for-Votes Offer

(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement is considering offering ministerial jobs to its political rivals to secure the parliamentary backing it needs to govern, according to party officials.

Italy's Five Star Is Said to Consider Jobs-for-Votes Offer

Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio’s preferred option would be to win support from the center-left Democratic Party or PD. As a second option he is also open to an alliance with fellow-euroskeptics of the League, said two Five Star officials who asked not to be named discussing party strategy. If those options fail, the party would feel confident heading into a repeat election, they added.

Five Star emerged as the biggest single party from the vote on March 4 but with a handful of votes still to be counted it’s still almost 90 seats short of a majority in the lower house. What’s more, Di Maio risks being outflanked by an alliance of lawmakers from the center and the right with League leader Matteo Salvini already reaching out to potential allies within the PD.

Italy's Five Star Is Said to Consider Jobs-for-Votes Offer

While the League is already established as the biggest group in a center-right coalition, the business of forming alliances is trickier for Di Maio since he’s long ruled out cutting backroom deals as part of his rejection of the traditional ways of doing politics. Since the election, he’s pushed back against suggestions he’d trade ministerial jobs for support.

“We don’t want to talk about posts, I repeat that the interest of citizens are at stake here and we talk with the other political forces about issues, program measures to improve people’s lives,” Di Maio said in an interview with Corriere della Sera published Friday. “We’ll talk for the good of citizens, and not to share out jobs.”

A spokeswoman for Di Maio said the party is not interesting in discussing “jobs-for-the-boys” and was willing to talk about policy measures with all other parties.

Areas of Agreement

Newspaper La Repubblica reported earlier Friday that Five Star is searching for potential nominees who could attract support from the PD.

Under the leadership’s latest thinking, Five Star could keep hold of key ministries while handing others to figures close to the PD or to the League, the officials said. Five Star could also make concessions when it comes to electing speakers for both houses of parliament later this month, they said.

Salvini side-stepped a question on whether it was easier to talk to the PD or to Five Star when he spoke to reporters in Milan Friday. “I talk to everyone,” Ansa reported. “They asked me to talk to everyone and I talk to everyone; then there’s a program chosen by the Italians.”

Five Star and at least part of the PD could find common ground on policies including tax cuts, labor-market reform, boosting investment, and a guaranteed income for the poor, the two Five Star officials said. The League could also agree on lower taxes and more public spending as well as sharing Five Star’s goals for revising European Union treaties and scrapping the Dublin agreement on asylum-seekers, they added.

Five Star voters would prefer an alliance with the League, according to a poll commissioned by the party leadership, La Stampa reported Friday. The survey showed opinions are divided but the League has a slight edge over the PD, the paper said.

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