M5S and League agree contract for Italy's 'government of change'

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M5S and League agree contract for Italy's 'government of change'
The Five Star Movement's Luigi Di Maio after talks at the presidential palace. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The leaders of Italy's two political upstarts, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League, say they have largely agreed on the final draft of a contract that lays out their vision for a 'government of change'.


While the make-up of the cabinet remains to be decided, after days of intense negotiations members of the two populist parties all but finalized their programme on Wednesday night, according to M5S spokesperson Rocco Casalino. 

"At the end there was applause and we all hugged each other," he said

The 40-page document contains more than 20 sections, of which a handful – "six points, barely six lines", according to Casalino – still have a question mark over them. M5S leader Luigi Di Maio and the League's Matteo Salvini will have the final say, reviewing and signing the document before presenting it to President Sergio Mattarella. 

The head of state has made it clear that he will only look at the definitive version of the text, after a draft leaked earlier this week caused consternation with proposals that would allow Italy to leave the euro, demand financial concessions from the EU and withdraw sanctions on Russia.

READ MORE: Leak reveals League and Five Star Movement's radical plans for Italy

Matteo Salvini of the League. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Some of the more explosive ideas are absent from the revised contract, notably the suggested opt-out from the single currency. The later draft states that Italy's position on the euro will be decided with its European partners, according to a version dated Tuesday evening and published by La Repubblica. 

Other changes include the insertion of a section on vaccines, which calls into question the current law making ten early immunizations compulsory for children attending public schools. A proposal to introduce term limits for legislators has also been added.  

The draft still calls for immediate suspension of Russian sanctions, as well as opening the door to pension reforms, a so-called "citizen's income", and two flat tax rates – though that last point is highlighted in red, indicating that it had yet to be agreed upon. 

Some of the other items still in red in that version include parts of a hardline immigration policy that would see Italy increase detentions of undocumented immigrants and speed up deportations. There appears to be a question mark over whether asylum centres should "fully respect" migrants' human rights, while another highlighted section proposes the creation of a register of religious ministers and a requirement that sermons be delivered in Italian, which are described as antiterrorism measures. 

The biggest uncertainty remains who will lead the government supposed to put such policies in practice. Di Maio has said that he and Salvini are "ready to remain outside" the leadership if necessary, adding that Italy's next prime minister would be "a political nominee who will be selected by both forces".

The parties are expected to meet again on Thursday to continue putting forward names. Both Di Maio and Salvini say that the final government contract and composition of the cabinet will be put to their parties' members for approval. President Mattarella and parliament must also approve the nominee for PM.

Markets will be watching the developments closely: the Italian stock market put in Europe's worst performance of the day on Wednesday after the draft contract was leaked, falling 2.32 percent.




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