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POLITICS

Italy takes baby steps towards a Five Star-Democratic Party government

Italy moved tentatively towards ending weeks of political deadlock on Tuesday after the centre-left and the Five Star Movement both said they were ready to start talks on a coalition government.

Italy takes baby steps towards a Five Star-Democratic Party government
The Five Star's Roberto Fico at the presidential palace. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

On Monday, Italian President Sergio Mattarella tasked speaker of the lower house Roberto Fico with seeing if a Five Star Movement (M5S)/Democratic Party (PD) government could be formed after talks between the M5S and a rightwing coalition led by the nationalist League party failed.

Fico has until Thursday to report back to the president.

Progress appeared possible after M5S leader Luigi Di Maio slammed the door  on Matteo Salvini's League, which is partnered with Silvio Berlusconi's Forza  Italia and minor far-right party Brothers of Italy, and said that he would sit down with the PD if they were willing to negotiate over a programme for government.

The talks between the the M5S and the League collapsed after Salvini refused Di Maio's demand that the League dump Berlusconi and come to the negotiating table alone.

“For 50 days we've tried in every way to invite the League to sign a government contract but they've decided to consign themselves to irrelevancy,” Di Maio said after meeting Fico on Tuesday afternoon.

“I ask the PD come to the table to see if there is the basis [for a government] … either a government is formed or we go back to the polls.”

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Luigi Di Maio. Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

The PD had previously refused to countenance being “a crutch” to an M5S government.

Earlier Tuesday, interim PD leader Maurizio Martina said he would consider negotiating with the M5S, should they confirm that their talks with the far-right League were definitively closed.

“If Di Maio's recent significant announcements are confirmed, we're ready to assess the new situation,” Martina said.

The PD has refused to partner Di Maio's M5S up to now due to the fierce attacks it has been subject to from the M5S since it first entered parliament in 2013.

It led a coalition that came third in last month's election with around 23 percent of the vote but has enough seats in both the lower and upper houses to form a majority with the M5S, which is Italy's largest single party after picking up 33 percent.

However, the majority it would form would be razor thin, and the significant policy differences between the two parties make forming a government tricky and will complicate any subsequent legislation.  

READ MORE: The Local's full coverage of the Italian election

POLITICS

Italy’s Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived on Saturday in the Libyan capital Tripoli for talks on energy as well as the thorny issue of migration, Libyan state media said.

Italy's Meloni in Libya to discuss energy and migration

Meloni’s trip – her second to a North African country this week – is the first by a European leader to war-battered Libya since her predecessor Mario Draghi’s visit in April 2021.

State television said the Italian premier was received by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who heads the Tripoli-based, UN brokered Government of National Unity which is contested by a rival administration in the east.

Libya and its former colonial power Italy are key trade partners, particularly in energy, where Italian giant Eni plays a major role in tapping into Africa’s largest known oil reserves.

Meloni was accompanied by Eni chief Claudio Descalzi, who is expected to sign a deal with Libya’s National Oil Company to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields.

Eni will invest $8 million in the two fields, NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said in televised remarks this week, adding they are expected to produce 850 million cubic metres of gas.

Meloni visited Algeria on Monday seeking supply deals from Africa’s top gas exporter to help reduce reliance on Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.

During her trip to Libya, she is also expected to discuss the issue of migration amid rising numbers of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.

Libya has been wracked by years of conflict and division since a NATO-backed revolt toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The country is a conduit for thousands of people each year fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa, seeking refuge across the Mediterranean in Europe.

Meloni’s far-right government took office in October, vowing to stop migrant landings in Italy, which reached more than 105,000 in 2022.

The central Mediterranean route is considered the world’s most treacherous, according to the International Organization for Migration, which estimated that 1,377 migrants had disappeared on that route last year.

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