ROME: Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League won more time on Monday to put together a government, amid suggestions they were struggling to agree on a prime minister to enact their big-spending policies.
Looking to end 10 weeks of deadlock following inconclusive elections, the two parties had been expected to present their coalition plans and the name of their candidate to head the new administration at a meeting with President Sergio Mattarella.
But after spending barely 30 minutes in Mattarella’s office, 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio told reporters that their program was still a work in progress. He also declined to say who might be their choice of prime minister.
“We agree we have to move quickly, but as we are writing what will be the government program for the next five years, it’s very important for us to do it as well as possible, so we told the president we needed a few more days,” Di Maio said.
The president granted the request and, in a sign it might still take some time before a new government is installed, the League said it would hold an informal referendum of its voters on May 19 and 20 on any deal. 5-Star has also said it will put any accord to an online ballot of its members.
The two parties are looking to implement massive tax cuts, abolish unpopular pension reform and introduce new welfare payments to Italy’s growing army of poor.
They have said they are ready to battle European Union budget restrictions to drive through their program in the face of concerns it could weaken finances in the country with the second-largest debt pile in Europe.
Mattarella, normally a low-profile figure, warned at the weekend about the importance of running sound public finances and maintaining Italy’s traditional pro-EU positions.
The president, who has the final word on nominating a premier, has also reminded both sides that he is not obliged to accept their recommendation for prime minister.