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POLITICS

Five Star Movement coalition is ‘absurd’, says Italy’s ex-PM Matteo Renzi

The former head of the Italian government Matteo Renzi and strongman of the Democratic Party (PD) on Sunday attacked the leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) as the two parties try to reach an agreement to form a new government.

Five Star Movement coalition is 'absurd', says Italy's ex-PM Matteo Renzi
The Democratic Party's former leader Matteo Renzi. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The Democratic Party on Thursday delayed a decision on forming a government with M5S, prolonging political uncertainty almost two months after inconclusive elections.

Asked about the Five Star Movement's leader Luigi Di Maio being prime minister on a programme broadcast on the RAI public television channel, Renzi responded with sarcasm: “Di Maio is the only one to think so.

“Maybe someone will give him 19 percent but asking for votes from those you accused of all the ills of Italy is absurd,” he said referring to the percentage of extra votes the party – which polled 33 percent of votes in the March 4th legislative elections – would need.

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Italy has been gripped by a political stalemate since the election failed to produce a clear winner.

A first round of consultations between M5S's Di Maio and the far-right League's Matteo Salvini collapsed earlier this month after both refused to budge over Salvini's coalition partner, former premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Di Maio had demanded that Salvini dump the 81-year-old media magnate, who the M5S regards as the symbol of political corruption, but Salvini insisted he would not break up a coalition that came first in the elections with a combined 37 percent. Its 33 percent of votes makes the M5S Italy's largest single party.

The political impasse led Di Maio to slam the door on any future accord with the League and turn towards the PD in a fresh round of negotiations.

The PD, in power since 2013, only got 23 percent of the vote as part of a left-wing coalition. Renzi resigned as PD head after the devastating result at the polls.The PD had until now, insisted it would remain in opposition, refusing to be a “crutch” for a M5S administration.

Renzi had become the country's youngest prime minister in 2014 at the age of 39. He managed to deliver his flagship labour market reforms and modest growth, while overseeing the granting of legal recognition to same-sex relationships for the first time.

But the recovery was not strong enough to generate any real political dividends, and Renzi's domestic fall from grace came in December 2016, when Italians rejected his proposal for constitutional reform in a referendum. 

READ ALSO: Matteo Renzi: How the one-time great hope of the Italian left fell from grace


Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

POLITICS

Italy’s Meloni in Libya to discuss energy, migration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived 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, 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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