Five Star’s Italian Rivals Pounce as Pay Pledge Backfires

(Bloomberg) -- The anti-establishment Five Star Movement requires its lawmakers to donate part of their salaries to a development fund – part of its claim to be different from the mainstream parties. But yesterday it emerged that some parliamentarians have kept hold of their pay.

As John Follain reports, the Democratic Party’s Matteo Renzi and Forza Italia’s Silvio Berlusconi gleefully jumped on allegations of financial impropriety, after years of moralizing from Five Star. The party says it’s investigating.

Today we have a big feature looking at how the political ground is shifting in Italy. Lorenzo Totaro and Alessandra Migliaccio have been to the historic Tuscan strongholds of the Italian left with photographer Geraldine Hope Ghelli to learn about the disillusion among the traditional supporters of Renzi’s PD.

Five Star’s Italian Rivals Pounce as Pay Pledge Backfires

The EU budget must help growth, Renzi told reporters in Rome yesterday. He said he’s opposed to fiscal austerity and EU rules limiting budget deficits.

Markets are complacent about the Italian elections, a Bloomberg editorial argues. Whatever government emerges will be too weak to address the twin challenges of slow growth and high debt, making it a threat to global financial stability. 

Five Star’s Italian Rivals Pounce as Pay Pledge Backfires

The economy slowed in the final quarter of 2017, leaving the pace of growth lagging France and Germany and providing a note of caution for voters. (10:05 a.m. update)

Who’s tweeting: Berlusconi shared snippets from a television interview where he extolled the wonders of the flat tax and said his coalition is close to winning 40 percent. Salvini is still hammering away about disturbances attributed to foreigners and called one opponent a “racist” for favoring immigrants over Italians. 

Quote of the day:
“Five Star has honest people and fraudsters, just like all the other parties.” Renzi to reporters in Rome

One thing to agree on is Italian success in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Renzi and Salvini saluted Italy’s first gold in short-track skating.

In case you missed it, Five Star wants to reassure industrialists, the economy is looking up, and Berlusconi wants to give your dog a tax break.

To contact the author of this story: Gregory Viscusi in Paris at gviscusi@bloomberg.net.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.