Italy's League Seeks Rivals' Votes But Won't Offer Posts

(Bloomberg) -- The leader of the euroskeptic League, the main party in Italy’s center-right alliance, signaled he wants other parties to back him in a minority administration but won’t invite rivals into his government.

Matteo Salvini, 45, whose coalition beat the anti-establishment Five Star Movement in the March 4 elections but fell short of a majority, told reporters at the European Parliament in Strasbourg that he was working on a five-year program focused on job creation and economic growth “which are emergencies.”

Salvini ruled out sharing out cabinet jobs and said he wants potential allies to sign a written pledge to support the first five points of his program during his government’s first year. He said he won’t let rival parties into his government, even if that proves a dealbreaker, because they were “rejected by Italians.”

The League, which overtook Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to become the center-right’s biggest party, has been reaching out to lawmakers from the center-left Democratic Party. While the center-right has the largest number of lawmakers, Five Star is the biggest single party and is challenging Salvini’s claim that he has a mandate to govern.

‘Suicidal’ EU

Salvini, whose party wants to review European Union treaties, warned against shutting the election winners out of government in order to “carry out the crazy, suicidal policies of the EU.” He added that the euro “is and remains a wrong currency” but ruled out “a solitary and sudden exit.”

Salvini said the League and Five Star have “very different programs” when asked whether they might govern together. He said he could not forge an alliance with premier Paolo Gentiloni or his predecessor Matteo Renzi, both of the PD, because they had governed Italy badly. His objective is a center-right government “and then time will tell.”

The PD itself is in disarray after Renzi resigned as leader following its worst-ever electoral result. Acting leader Maurizio Martina said Monday it will “continue to serve citizens, from the opposition” but that stance could shift once a new leader has been chosen, possibly in early April.

Acting Transport Minister Graziano Delrio told RAI radio Tuesday the PD would listen to President Sergio Mattarella, whose task it is to nominate a premier, if he appealed for the party to play a role in forming the next goverment.

If gridlock persists for weeks, Mattarella could ask all political forces to join a government tasked with limited objectives such as pushing the 2019 budget through parliament by the end of the year and reforming the electoral system.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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