The utter annihilation of Italy’s pro-European old guard at last weekend’s election means that the country will be led by one Eurosceptic party or a coalition with Eurosceptic leanings. The dealmaking has begun.
The largest single party, Luigi di Maio’s 5-Star, will seek a coalition with the centre left Democratic Party (PD) but there is a movement led by leftist former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to ensure that no deal is done between them, even though that would give Di Maio enough seats to govern (a majority of 24).
So the President, Sergio Mattarella, who oversees proceedings, will turn his attention to Matteo Salvini, leader of the Centre Right coalition after his La Lega party did better than his coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
He has 263 seats in the House, and needs 316. Despite having been regarded in the past as a swivel eyed fascist, Salvini has repositioned himself and comes across as intelligent and reasonable. Here he is addressing the British people on Brexit:
‘Great Britain is a friendly country with a long tradition of trading with Italy. You made a free choice with Brexit and I very much hope it will be possible to maintain completely open trade with the EU without any penalties.’