As Uncertainty Lingers, Italy’s Populists May Give Talks Another Shot

But the internet is rife with examples of Mr. Di Maio, his party’s co-founder Beppe Grillo, and other top Five Star officials calling either for a referendum on the euro or for leaving the currency outright.

In one video, a dejected young Italian looks sadly at the euro in his hand and tosses it into a fountain. He then imagines all the buying power he’d have with a 1,000 lire bill. Then the camera focuses on high-heeled boots moving toward him on the cobblestones, and scans up to reveal a top Five Star official, Paola Taverna, appearing like a fairy godmother. She turns the euro in his hand into that 1,000 lire bill, and tells him that the Five Star Movement can make his dreams come true and it is “possible to leave the euro.” A thousand lira would be valued at a fraction of a euro.

Mr. Salvini said this week that neither he, nor his pick for finance minister, wanted to leave the euro. But in prior interviews, Mr. Salvini has clearly stated he wanted Italy out of the euro and has even failed to rule out leaving the European Union.

As Uncertainty Lingers, Italy’s Populists May Give Talks Another Shot
As Uncertainty Lingers, Italy’s Populists May Give Talks Another Shot

In a 2016 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Salvini said: “Leave the euro? Surely yes. Tomorrow morning. Once the monetary sovereignty is retaken, one can make a last attempt to renegotiate all of the treaties, Maastricht, Schengen, Dublin and Lisbon.” Those treaties are the lifeblood of the European Union.

Amid a remarkably fluid and high-stakes situation, Italian analysts contemplated a variety of outcomes. Anything seemed possible for the moment, and if Mr. Mattarella decided that the country should go to new elections, either this summer or in early fall, it was not clear what the alliances would be.

If Five Star and the League entered into new elections as an alliance and vowed not to leave the euro, which is still relatively popular in Italy, they were nearly assured a landslide victory.

If they joined together to run against the euro, they would still have a good shot at winning, setting off perhaps the greatest crisis in the history of the European Union and, many of the bloc’s leaders fear, the potential collapse of its currency and the continent’s economy.

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