Salvini Stakes Claim to Lead Center-Right Italian Government
(Bloomberg) -- Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-migrant League, said his center-right coalition is in a position to form the next Italian government after winning the most votes in Sunday’s election.
While the latest projections show his alliance with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is almost certain to fall short of an outright majority, Salvini said he’s won the right to govern, and ruled out cutting a deal with other groups.
“The center-right is the coalition that won, it’s the coalition that can govern,” Salvini said in a televised press conference from Milan. He said he won’t consider “bizarre” coalitions with other groups.
Forza Italia lawmaker Renato Brunetta earlier on Monday said that Salvini has the right to lead the coalition after securing more votes than Berlusconi’s group.
In the boastful news conference after the vote, Salvini repeated his dire predictions for the euro common currency -- comments that have scared markets and investors in the past.
“The common currency system is bound to come to an end,” Salvini said. “Not because Salvini wants that but because that’s what facts, good sense and the real economy say. So, we want to be prepared when the moment comes.”
Salvini thanked French right-wing figure Marine Le Pen for her support in the just-closed election campaign, adding that she would have been a great president for her country in last year’s elections.
The results of Sunday’s elections, after a free-for-all slugfest campaign, shocked many Italians, as the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni took less than 20 percent of the vote. President Sergio Mattarella will need to pick the person he believes can best form a government to provide Italy with much-needed stability.
“We risk that the European train takes off with the grand coalition in Berlin, with the obvious political leadership of Emmanuel Macron” in France, Sandro Gozi, Italy’s current junior minister for European affairs, said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Francine Lacqua. He said there was a risk that Italy could be stuck at the railway station to wave goodbye.
Italy’s European Union partners will be closely watching as the nation lurches toward government talks and a coalition. Italy already has the slowest economic growth pace in the 19-nation euro area, with a further fall predicted for next year by the European Commission.
The anti-establishment groups surged in the balloting as voters punished the mainstream parties for years of economic decline, rising taxes and a wave of immigration, casting doubt on the country’s future political direction.
Projections based on ballot-counting on Monday morning suggested the two forces with the most gains, the euroskeptic Five Star Movement and the anti-migrant League, could reach a majority in at least one of the houses of the Rome-based parliament should they join forces. The two parties could have a majority of about 345 seats combined in the 630-strong lower house, according to projections from RAI television.
That would first require the League to break its electoral pact with the other center-right parties. After that, weeks of horse-trading would be needed before a new government could be appointed, creating uncertainty in markets throughout the European Union.
“I think that’s a possibility, perhaps even a probability,” Nathalie Tocci, director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua in Rome, commenting on a possible government alliance between Five Star and the League. “In terms of programs, one could actually argue that there is more that separates Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia from the League than the Five Star Movement from the League.”
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.