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Italy’s right wing prepares united front ahead of further government talks

The leaders of Italy's three main rightwing parties met on Sunday to discuss their strategy ahead of continuing talks aimed at forming a government after a month-long stalemate.

Italy's right wing prepares united front ahead of further government talks
Leader of far-right party Brothers of Italy Giorgia Meloni, head of the centre-right Forza Italia (Go Italy) Silvio Berlusconi and leader of far-right party the League Matteo Salvini pictured before t

Initial talks with the country's president failed to provide a solution to the deadlock following March's inconclusive election

But the leaders of the League, Forza Italia, and Brothers of Italy said on Sunday that they planned to present “a common front” in the next round of talks, set to take place next week. They met at Silvio Berlusconi's residence in Arcore near Milan in the north of the country.

Such a stance would likely freeze out the populist Five Star Movement, which emerged as the largest single party but has said it will not govern with Berlusconi. The 81-year-old Forza Italia leader has repeatedly criticized the newer party, which he has described as a “sect”.

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The centre-right bloc won the most seats in the vote but fell short of the majority needed to govern.

The party leaders stressed in their statement the need for “a government that respects the will of the citizens as expressed in the March election”, and said the responsibility of forming a government should “undoubtedly” fall to the centre-right.

Berlusconi's Forza Italia had a disappointing performance in the election, overtaken by Salvini's League as the dominant party in the centre-right group.

Since the results, Salvini has appeared keen to assert this dominance, and on Sunday issued a separate statement alongside the joint one.

In that statement, the League leader said he was open to all scenarios other than a deal with the Democratic Party (PD).

“This week I will continue to talk with others, starting with Di Maio,” he said, adding that if he is able to form a government he would be “proud” to do so.

However, he also took to Twitter to criticize the Five Star leader, writing: “Di Maio talks of change and yet is open to the PD”.

Meanwhile, Di Maio sniped at Salvini using his own preferred social media platform, saying in a Facebook post “I see that the League promised change but prefers to keep Berlusconi close and condemn itself to irrelevance.”

He added that if Salvini changed his mind about ditching Berlusconi, he should “give us a call; we'll tell him if we're still available to work with him”.

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

An Italian centre-left election pact broke down on Sunday just days after it was formed, leaving the path to power clear for the hard- right coalition.

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

The alliance between Italian centre-left parties was left in disarray on Sunday night, potentially meaning a landslide victory for the hard-right coalition at early general elections in September.

The leader of the centrist Azione party withdrew support for the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) just five days after the two joined forces, saying it could not work with left-wingers brought in to boost the alliance.

Carlo Calenda, leader of Azione, withdrew his support on Sunday after PD made another pact with smaller left-wing parties including the radical Sinistra Italiana, and new green party Europa Verde.

“You cannot explain (to voters) that to defend the constitution you make a pact with people you know you will never govern with,” Calenda told newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The news was greeted with jubilation by hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini, who tweeted: “On the left chaos and everyone against everyone!”

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neofascist Brothers of Italy party (FdI) mocked a “new twist in the soap opera of the centre-left.”

READ ALSO: Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

Analyists predict the centre-left split could hand the right-wing bloc a landslide victory at the election on September 25th, with Meloni tipped to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni has a strong alliance with Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Letta is struggling to bring together the disparate  progressive parties.

The PD is neck and neck with Brothers of Italy in the latest opinion polls, but even in partnership with Azione, the group most recently polled at 33.6 percent, compared with 46.4 percent for the right.

Early elections were called after Mario Draghi’s government collapsed in late July. Draghi’s government currently remains in place in a caretaker role.

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