Italy’s Di Maio Survives Online Vote After EU Election Slide

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(Bloomberg) -- Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio won the backing of Five Star Movement activists in an online vote, despite dissent within the party after a stinging defeat in Sunday’s European parliamentary elections.

Di Maio won the backing of 80% of activists taking part in the referendum, with 44,849 in favor of confirmation versus 11,278 against, according to a post on the blog of anti-establishment Five Star.

The vote strengthens Di Maio, partner to fellow-Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini of the rightist League in the ruling coalition, after several Five Star lawmakers blamed him for the party seeing its vote cut in half Sunday compared with the 32% scored in national elections last year.

Di Maio wrote in a Facebook post after the online vote that he will profoundly reorganize Five Star “to make it closer to citizens.” He added: “I’m sure that we will start afresh, stronger than before. For the Five Star Movement and for the Italian government which we support.”

Salvini has told his party that he wants to keep the fractious coalition government going, but is ready to see it collapse if he cannot push through his flat tax plans and other priority measures.

Two people present at a closed-door meeting in Rome Wednesday said that Salvini told League lawmakers that his alliance with Five Star could last another four years or it could be over within three months.

The future of the pact depends on Five Star agreeing to League policy demands, Salvini insisted, and on Di Maio keeping internal dissent in check following his disastrous result Sunday, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing a private meeting.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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