Italy’s Populists Flirt With a Deal to Create a Government

It now looks possible that Mr. Di Maio’s draft of history might get scrapped.

Both sides are still haggling over a common agenda that they hope will dominate Italian politics for the next five years. But there is plenty they don’t see eye to eye on, including, Mr. Salvini suggested, justice reform, Italian adherence to European budget rules, investment in infrastructure and, perhaps most importantly, immigration.

“On immigration the League and Five Star’s positions start from notable distances,” Mr. Salvini said. “I refuse to think of yet another summer and fall of the business of migrant landings, of more illegal immigration. If there is a government, the League must have a free hand to protect Italian citizens’ security and to dismantle a business made on the backs of migrants.”

Italy’s Populists Flirt With a Deal to Create a Government
Italy’s Populists Flirt With a Deal to Create a Government

Polls have shown that Mr. Salvini has benefited from his performance, by turns professional and provocative, through the negotiations following inconclusive elections on March 4.

And he has never broken ranks with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who a few days ago unlocked the possibility of a deal by agreeing to step back for the time being. In a not-so-veiled threat to the Five Star Movement, Mr. Salvini said on Monday that he remained in contact and on good terms with his coalition partners, some of whom seemed eager to return to vote in the hopes of winning an outright majority.

“We are making an enormous effort because if I was only thinking in terms of political, party and personal convenience, we would have left a long time ago,” Mr. Salvini said at the Monday news conference at the president’s Quirinal Palace.

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