Italy's Populists Are Said to Meet in New Government Talks

(Bloomberg) -- The leaders of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the euroskeptic League are meeting in an attempt to form a government without the participation of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s party, according to two lawmakers who declined to be named discussing a confidential encounter.

Five Star’s Luigi Di Maio and the League’s Matteo Salvini are holding talks whose outcome is still uncertain, one of the officials said. Five Star has offered to govern with the League, which leads a center-right alliance, but has insisted on the League breaking with its junior ally, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. Salvini has so far refused to break with ex-premier Berlusconi.

A senior League official said in a text message that Salvini and Di Maio weren’t meeting.

Italy's Populists Are Said to Meet in New Government Talks

President Sergio Mattarella has been expected to name the premier of what he calls “a neutral government” as early as Wednesday after political parties failed to agree on a ruling coalition in two months of negotiations since inconclusive March 4 general elections. Mattarella could, however, change his plan if an accord is reached between Five Star and the League, according to an official.

Di Maio told reporters earlier on Wednesday: “It’s not a veto on Berlusconi; it’s a wish to talk to the League. Full stop.” He said “we want to form a government with two political forces and not four,” in remarks cited by newswire Ansa.

The March 4 elections resulted in a hung parliament, with the center-right bloc ahead of Five Star but both short of a majority.

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