Italy set for a Lega-5 Star government

The process of forming a new government in Italy continues. While the right-wing nationalist Lega Nord and the Five Star protest movement have made it known that they have agreed on a government programme, they failed to propose a prime minister on Monday. Instead they asked President Sergio Mattarella for more time. This provokes much head-shaking among commentators.

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Delo (SI) / 15 May 2018

Meaningless phrases and no results

In view of the difficult process of forming a government Delo condemns the two party leaders Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio:

“More than two months after the parliamentary elections the Five Star Movement and the Lega Nord once again emerged from the Quirinal Palace empty-handed. They haven't announced whom they will propose for the post of prime minister. And this despite the fact that on the weekend Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio said they had discussed more than they had in the preceding ten weeks. But their inflated vocabulary and meaningless phrases raised doubts from the start. Can this story have a good ending? In democracy it is quality that counts, not quantity. In this case, however, we are dealing with two simple-minded and incompetent politicians who are not really interested in a government but in power.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) / 15 May 2018

A populist experimental workshop

The future Italian government is on a collision course, Dagens Nyheter comments:

“The party [meaning the coalition] may be popular - but no one knows who's going to pay for it. Italy's debts amount to over 130 percent of the GDP and the country's already weak growth rate is slowing down. ... A confrontation with Brussels and with reality is to be expected. So far the financial markets have stayed calm, but sooner or later they will react. The Lega Nord's notions about deporting several hundred thousands of migrants are hardly practicable. But the Eastern European anti-refugee front now extends to the south. Italy is one of the EU's founding members. The fact that it is turning into a populist experimental workshop does not bode well.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) / 14 May 2018

The danger of incompetence

Given its huge debts Italy needs competent people in government right now, writes Ferruccio De Bortoli worriedly in Corriere del Ticino:

“We don't know whether these evaluations [of Italy's finances] played a role in the drawing up of the agreement for the 'government of change' consisting of the Lega Nord and the Five Star Movement. But they are no doubt the major concern for the president. Sergio Mattarella will therefore exercise his prerogative, particularly regarding the selection of the prime minister. The latter must not simply be a spokesperson or delegate carrying out the orders of the two protagonists, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini. And Mattarella will also have his say on whom the key posts go to. ... But the risk of incompetent newcomers ending up in office is high.”

De Standaard (BE) / 14 May 2018

Clinging to the status quo is for losers

The situation in Italy should serve as a warning for the EU, writes De Standaard:

“Emmanuel Macron, the leader of the pro-Europeans, must be feeling pretty lonely. His chosen ally Angela Merkel is weakened in her own country and doesn't look very belligerent. Instead, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is heading up a group of countries appealing for more euro realism. ... But the message still doesn't seem to have got through in the Brussels euro bubble. Instead of pausing to reflect on why more and more citizens are turning their backs on European politics, many functionaries are sticking fearfully to the old formulas. ... But clinging to the status quo can be a dangerous political decision. The Italian establishment has experienced this first hand.”

888.hu (HU) / 10 May 2018

Another nail in the EU's coffin

A government consisting of the Lega Nord and the Movimento Cinque Stelle would be a nightmare for Brussels, writes the pro-government website 888.hu:

“The Five Star Movement has promised among other things a basic income that would be contingent on being an Italian national. ... Matteo Salvini's Lega Nord party promised to lower taxes, introduce a pension reform and ensure that illegal immigrants are deported. ... The fact that these two parties are on the brink of agreeing on forming a joint government is another nail in Brussels' coffin. Because it could mean the birth of another Eurosceptic and anti-immigration power in Europe.”

La Stampa (IT) / 11 May 2018

Mattarella calming Europe's fears

Italian President Mattarella has warned the leaders of the potential coalition parties to act in accordance with the European spirit. For La Stampa these words are wisely chosen:

“Salvini won't be too happy. ... Yet he should be grateful to the head of state, not just for this advice but also for the latter's efforts to calm the surprised European partners, who are visibly concerned at the prospect of a sovereigntist government being born. Mattarella's words underline one of the main problems the Salvini-Di Maio tandem poses: the relationship with the EU. ... This timely advice could therefore help the prospective government to stick to the right course. One could describe the head of state's intervention as unusual and surprising. But those who say this are acting as if they weren't aware of the role and obligations of the person tasked with guaranteeing national unity.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) / 11 May 2018

A government of parallel populisms

Corriere del Ticino discusses what a government made up of the Lega and the Movimento Cinque Stelle portends:

“Parallel populisms will be participating in government. In this case, however, populism is not meant in a negative but in a descriptive sense: a movement that sees the people as a homogeneous entity without divergent interests. A people that is always right in all of its demands, ostensibly overwhelmed by undefined dark forces (elites, the establishment) and that hangs on the lips of its leader as if he were a saint. The populisms of the Movimento Cinque Stella and the Lega have inspired high expectations. They will propose costly reforms. They are anti-euro and anti-EU sovereigntists. They want a new Italy. We'll see what that means in practice.”

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