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News by Fred Alan Medforth
Monday, May 14, 2018
Italian Populists Ready to Launch Coalition Govt Which Could ‘Pierce Brussels Through the Heart’
The populist Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-mass migration League (Lega) are ready to propose a prime minister and a programme of government to the Italian president.
Founded by eurosceptic comedian Beppe Grillo just eight years ago, the insurgent M5S was by far the biggest individual winner in the Mediterranean country’s recent elections, securing 32 per cent of the vote.Lega, which formerly focused on securing greater autonomy for Italy’s north but took its anti-mass migration message nationwide following the onset of the migrant crisis was the election’s other big winner, coming in first place among a right-wing coalition which collectively secured 37 per cent of the vote.
With neither M5S or the right-wing coalition able to form a government by themselves, however, observers such as former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon suggested a populist dream ticket was possible, with the two coming together to form a coalition government.
Both parties are anti-establishment and opposed to mass migration, but there are important differences in approach and style between the two, raising questions over whether a coalition programme could be agreed.
However, their differences appear to have been surmounted, with leaders Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini set to propose a more neutral third-party as prime minister and a coalition programme setting aside some of the more radical pet initiatives of the two parties, but following Lega’s harder line on immigration.
Prior to the elections, Bannon had predicted the two come together to form a populist coalition which could “pierce Brussels through the heart and terrify them”.
“Both the League and the Five-Star Movement… came out in favour of Trump,” he observed as Italian voters were heading to the polls.
“I have respect for both movements, with their differences: one more secular, the other an expression of the more traditional society; one more anti-system, the other perhaps more with a clearer plan of action.
“I think that a coalition among all the populists would be fantastic. It would pierce Brussels through the heart and terrify them. But even if it doesn’t happen now this doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future.”