M5S unveils programme for Italy’s ‘government of change’

Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) on Friday published a policy programme for government drafted with the far-right League, taking the parties a step closer to ending months of stalemate.

M5S unveils programme for Italy's 'government of change'
Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

“Today we have finally concluded the 'Contract for the Government of Change'. I'm very happy,” said Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio in a Facebook post hailing the development as “an historic moment”.

“These have been 70 very intense days… in the end we've managed to achieve what we announced in the electoral compaign.” 

The 58-page programme contains no mention of a unilateral exit from the eurozone – mooted in previous versions leaked to media – but rejects post-financial crisis austerity policies and features hardline immigration and security proposals.

“The government's actions will target a programme of public debt reduction not through revenue based on taxes and austerity, policies that have not achieved their goal, but rather through increased GDP by the revival of internal demand,” the document reads.

It retains controversial proposals to drop sanctions on Russia and review Italy's law on vaccines, which makes at least ten immunizations compulsory for schoolchildren. 

The contract promises a version of the League's flat tax with just two tax brackets, 15 and 20 percent, while dropping the anti-immigration party's requirement that all religious sermons be delivered in Italian.

It also contains plans for a version of the M5S's universal basic income, which would guarantee jobseekers and retirees €780 per month. 

The joint programme will be put to Five Star members, who will vote on the contents of the document via the party's “Rousseau” website which is used for major decisions. It will also be put to a vote by League members. 

If approved, the programme will then be presented to Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

On Thursday evening, League leader Matteo Salvini said it would be handed to Mattarella on Monday, by which time he and Di Maio should also have their candidate for prime minister. Mattarella must agree to the parties' nominee before they can seek parliament's approval.

“I am very confident, we have created the basis for the government and the name of the prime minister will not be a problem,” Di Maio told supporters late Thursday in the northern town of Monza. 

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


Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Days after Italy's far-right leader made a multilingual appeal to foreign commentators to take her seriously, her main rival in September elections issued his own tit-for-tat video Saturday condemning her record.

Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Former prime minister Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, declared his pro-European credentials in a video in English, French and Spanish, while deriding the euroscepticism of Italy’s right-wing parties.

It echoes the trilingual video published this week by Giorgia Meloni, tipped to take power in the eurozone’s third largest economy next month, in which she sought to distance her Brothers of Italy party from its post-fascist roots.

“We will keep fighting to convince Italians to vote for us and not for them, to vote for an Italy that will be in the heart of Europe,” Letta said in English.

His party and Meloni’s are neck-and-neck in opinion polls ahead of September 25 elections, both with around 23 percent of support.

But Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni is part of an alliance with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and anti-immigration leader Matteo Salvini, Letta has struggled to unite a fractured centre-left.

Speaking in French perfected in six years as a dean at Sciences Po university in Paris, Letta emphasised European solidarity, from which Italy is currently benefiting to the tune of almost 200 billion euros ($205 billion) in
post-pandemic recovery funds.

“We need a strong Europe, we need a Europe of health, a Europe of solidarity. And we can only do that if there is no nationalism inside European countries,” he said.

He condemned the veto that he said right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor “Orban — friends and allies of the Italian right — is using every time he can (to) harm Europe”.

In Spanish, Letta highlighted Meloni’s ties with Spain’s far-right party Vox, at whose rally she spoke earlier this summer, railing at the top of her voice against “LGBT lobbies”, Islamist violence, EU bureaucracy and mass

In English, he condemned the economic legacy of Berlusconi, a three-time premier who left office in 2011 as Italy was on the brink of economic meltdown, but still leads his Forza Italia party.

Letta’s programme includes a focus on green issues — he intends to tour Italy in an electric-powered bus — and young people, but he has made beating Meloni a key plank of his campaign.

Meloni insisted in her video that fascism was in the past, a claim greeted with scepticism given her party still uses the logo of a flame used by the Italian Social Movement set up by supporters of fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

In a joint manifesto published this week, Meloni, Berlusconi and Salvini committed themselves to the EU but called for changes to its budgetary rules — and raised the prospect of renegotiating the pandemic recovery plan.

Elections were triggered by the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government last month, and are occurring against a backdrop of soaring inflation, a potential winter energy crisis and global uncertainty sparked by
the Ukraine war.