ITALY’s two patriot parties could be set to join forces to build a coalition majority in a move viewed by critics as the most destabilising potential outcome of the election.
Lega and the Five Star patriot parties could rise to power in a shocking change of direction for Italy in protest of years of painful rules from Brussels.
Despite the deep ideological differences between the Eurosceptic party and fellow insurgents Five Star, Fabrizio Nusca, a vet and local official with Italy’s Lega party, believes an alliance is worth a shot.
He said: “There are similarities in our platforms, we share some things. If we find a few common issues to work on, it’s feasible.”
Mr Nusca is still lapping up his anti-immigrant party’s gains following the general election on March 4.
He said: “We expected a signal from the voters and it came.”
Lega, translated as The League, took 18 percent of the vote in Mr Nusca’s town Cerveteri, which lies about 25 miles north-west of Rome, compared with 0.1 percent in 2013.
Meanwhile Five Star, founded in 2009 by comedian Beppe Grillo, took home 34 percent of the vote in the town.
It was a similar story in the national vote, with Five Star winning 32 percent, making them the largest party in parliament, and Lega coming out as the leading conservative force, with 18 percent of the vote.
But after voters delivered a damaging rebuke to the establishment in the polls, questions are emerging about whether the two populist parties can set aside their significant political and cultural differences to join forces to form an alliance in government.
EU investors and policymakers fear a coalition between the pair, based on defiance of EU fiscal rules and economic nationalism, could cause clashes with Brussels and damage confidence in the country’s ability to pay off its significant debt.
President Sergio Mattarella is due to lead formal coalition talks after the new parliament convenes on March 23 and the speakers of both chambers are elected.
Officials have warned that the talks may last weeks, with no simple solution in sight.
Political conversation between Lega and Five Star began this week for the first time since the election. On Wednesday evening, Luigi Di Maio, 31, who leads Five Star and 45-year-old Matteo Salvini spoke by phone and agreed to meet face-to-face next week.
Both Lega and Five Star share common ground on their critical view of the centre-left governments led by Matteo Renzi and then Paolo Gentiloni, speaking out about their labour market reform, bank bailouts, pensions stance and their insistence to have vaccines.
The two patriot parties have also criticised the government for being insufficient in challenging the EU over its fiscal rules, including sanctions on Russia.
But the general election vote, and their campaigns highlighted major differences between the parties.
Five Star’s leader, Mr Di Maio who saw his party heavily win in impoverished southern Italy, presented the priority for its main economic policy as a guaranteed income subsidy for the poor.
This differs from the League’s base of business owners and workers, which sees it as a handout.
Lega which triumphed in more prosperous northern and central Italy, has been more unsympathetic towards Brussels, aligning itself with Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.
The party has presented its main economic policy as a flat tax at 15 per cent, which activists for Five Star view as being beneficial for the wealthy.
Saver Garbarino, a Five Star councillor in Cerveteri said: “It’s a gift to the rich, it’s openly a gift to the rich.”
Mr Garbarino also views the Lega’s anti-immigrant pledge to deport 600,000 illegal immigrants with suspicion. He added: “We need integration here.”
In order to form an alliance, the League leader would have to break his pact with former prime minister and leader of the centre-right Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi.
Mr Salvini would also have to come to terms with being Five Star’s junior partner.
A Lega official said Mr Salvini plans to avoid a coalition deal with Five Star, but rather aims to tighten his party’s hold on the Italian right in hopes of a stronger victory if alliance talks fail and early elections are called later this year or in 2019.
It has been speculated that Five Star would let down some of its base by joining forces with the League, as the party has always presented itself as the purest of the country’s political parties, because of its unwillingness to engage with the opposition.
Andrea Mammone, a professor of history at Royal Holloway University of London said: “If we look at the genesis and evolution of the party, any alliance is clearly problematic. But this is a test for them: what do they want to be?”
But in Cerveteri, Lega activist Vilma Pavin said: “We are super happy, to say the least.”
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