Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s deputy prime minister, celebrates following the presentation of the budget targets during a cabinet meeting at the Chigi palace in Rome, Italy. (Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg)

Italian Populist Luigi Di Maio Promises to Cut Pay for Lawmakers

(Bloomberg) -- Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said there is plenty more to be done on the populist agenda, including cutting the pay of the nation’s lawmakers.

“We’re only at the end of the beginning,” Di Maio said in a New Year’s Day message two days after Parliament passed a budget that includes scaled-back income support for the poor and measures to lower the retirement age for some.

Di Maio, the head of coalition partner Five Star Movement, promised the passage of a “wonderful law” to trim compensation for members of parliament this year. Italian lawmakers are reported to be among the best-paid parliamentarians in the European Union.

President Sergio Mattarella has sought to rein in Italy’s populist leaders: Di Maio and fellow Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini. In a New Year’s Eve address, the head of state warned that the country’s debt mountain, at more than 130 percent of gross domestic product, penalizes ordinary citizens.

Salvini, head of the rightist League party, noted that while he’s in agreement with Di Maio on the need to cut unnecessary spending, the government has more important priorities. “It’s right to cut waste and useless expenses,” Salvini said Tuesday, in comments cited by Ansa news agency. “But as far as the League is concerned, Italians’ priorities are more concrete issues” including tax and pension reforms.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Di Maio also promised to work on environmental and foreign affairs issues in 2019, adding that it was a pleasure to fight against those “who used public money and national laws to take advantage of a series of rights to which they weren’t entitled.”

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