Secretary of the Italian Democratic Party (PD), Nicola Zingaretti, talks to the press outside the centre-left party headquarters in Rome, Italy, Monday, Aug. 26 2019. ingaretti challenged the 5-Stars to agree to a government whose planks would be a clear break with those of the coalition that just collapsed. (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via AP)

Italian opposition leader 'optimistic' coalition can formed

August 26, 2019 - 2:50 pm

ROME (AP) — The head of Italy's opposition Democrats said Monday he's "optimistic" a deal can be struck with the populist 5-Star Movement to form a new government that would keep right-wing leader Matteo Salvini out of power.

Nicola Zingaretti told reporters that his meeting earlier in the day with Movement leader Luigi Di Maio was "positive."

"I believe we're on the right path," Zingaretti said. "We had asked that we start off discussing ideas and content, and tonight we'll go into details, I'm optimistic."

But the choice of who would become premier has loomed as a major hurdle.

Pointedly, Zingaretti evaded questions on whether caretaker Premier Giuseppe Conte, a non-partisan who enjoys 5-Star support might be tapped to forge another coalition that this time shuts out Salvini and his nationalist League party.

Conte resigned last week after Salvini, riding a wave of popularity, yanked support for the nearly 15-month-old government in a bid to trigger new elections the League leader bets will bring him the premiership.

Conte, who just returned from the G-7 in France, was expected to join the fresh round of talks between Zingaretti and Di Maio Monday night.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has said that if by mid-week he doesn't have guarantees a new coalition would give the country a lasting government, he'll dissolve Parliament, triggering elections this fall, 3 ½ years ahead of time.

Zingaretti said that just such a government is his goal.

"Assembling a government is a serious thing, we're serious persons," Zingaretti said. "We don't want to form another one like the last one that collapse after 14 months."

Salvini, who only a few days ago dangled the possibility that he and Di Maio could cobble together a fresh coalition, almost sounded resigned Monday night that his power play to win new elections soon would be thwarted.

"It seems like a government is being born with (the goal of) power being the only glue" holding the would-be coalition together, Salvini told reporters. All that's left to do for the Democrats and 5-Stars is the "divvying up of the ministries, the undersecretaries" and so on.

"The high road is voting," Salvini insisted. Any new government would be "betrayal of the popular will," he said.

A new government must win mandatory confidence votes in each of Parliament's two chambers.

Mattarella's office announced that he would hold a second round of talks with party leaders, starting with the smallest parties in Parliament on Tuesday evening. Mattarella set aside Wednesday for longer closed-door sessions with the heads of the Democrats, the League and the 5-Stars.

Whether the Democrats and 5-Stars might seal a deal late Monday that would preclude the need for any more talks with Mattarella was unclear. He had told the nation any new government must be durable and based on a feasible platform of goals.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()