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Second day of Italy crisis talks after prime minister resigns

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Italy’s president will hold a second day of talks aimed at solving the political crisis shaking the country on Thursday after the disintegration of the populist government.

President Sergio Mattarella will meet the main parties, including the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and far-right League, after the breakdown of their dysfunctional coalition.

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Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Tuesday after months of alliance sniping and a bid by League leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to force a snap election, just 14 months since coming to power.

The nationalist, populist government’s demonisation of migrants, promoted by Salvini in particular, and attempts to flout EU budget rules had angered many European leaders.

Mattarella met the leaders of both houses of parliament on Wednesday and has been trying to find a way forward.

The formation of a new coalition, a short-term technocratic government or an early election — more than three years ahead of schedule — are the main options.

– Conditional support –

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A proposed alliance between M5S and opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) — previously almost unthinkable — appears to be gaining traction, with PD leader Nicola Zingaretti saying he is ready to make a deal.

The PD and M5S have been at each other’s throats for years — but an alliance would see Salvini kicked out of government, a powerful motive for compromise.

Zingaretti has said the party would back an M5S coalition dependent on five conditions, including a radical shift in Italy’s zero-tolerance policy on migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

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He later told “La 7” television he was also against the idea of Conte staying on as prime minister.

M5S would like Conte to remain in place but did not give much away, saying it would “wait for the end of consultations”.

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In a bid to get a PD-M5S alliance off the ground, former PD premier Matteo Renzi has said he will not participate.

Many in the anti-establishment party view him as elitist.

Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, on Wednesday mocked his former coalition allies, saying: “In a week they have gone from the League to Renzi.”

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He added: “No matter which government emerges, its goals will be against the League.”

– Risk of recession –

The end of the unstable coalition government in the eurozone’s third-largest economy has so far been welcomed by the markets, with a sharp rise in the Milan stock market on Wednesday.

The country’s debt ratio — 132 percent of gross domestic product — is the second-biggest in the eurozone after Greece, and youth unemployment is currently above 30 percent.

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Governments have consistently struggled to bring down debt levels and unemployment.

“Italy’s disharmonious political backdrop and the country’s budgetary challenges extend well before the sovereign debt crisis,” said Rabobank analyst Jane Foley.

Rome needs to approve a budget in the next few months or potentially face an automatic rise in value-added tax that would hit the least well-off Italian families the hardest and likely plunge the country into recession.

“(The crisis) arrives at a critical juncture for Europe amid the risk of recession in Germany and the formation of the new European Commission, and could contribute to deteriorate significantly the confidence on the eurozone,” said Andrea Montanino, chief economist at the General Confederation of Italian Industry.

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After last year’s election it took months of wrangling before a government was formed.

Mattarella has made it clear he wants talks to conclude quickly but splits within the PD and M5S, as well as sharp policy differences, could complicate coalition efforts.

A PD-M5S tie-up would realistically also need support from smaller parties to be an effective government.


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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls Fox News host Tucker Carlson a ‘white supremacist sympathizer’

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called Tucker Carlson a “white supremacist sympathizer” Wednesday on Twitter, adding that Fox News’ decision to “bankroll” him was the “main reason” why she refuses to appear on the network.

“I go back and forth on whether to go on Fox News,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “The main reason I haven’t is squaring the fact that the ad revenue from it bankrolls a white supremacist sympathizer to broadcast an hour-long production of unmitigated racism, without any accountability whatsoever.”

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‘Someone has a nuclear weapon’: Ukraine leader ridicules Russian TV for scrapping his comedy show

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Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelensky has ridiculed a Russian TV channel for abruptly cancelling his popular comedy series after one evening, saying the show had its impact on "someone with a nuclear weapon."

Zelensky's "Servant of the People" premiered in Russia on Wednesday evening after a high-profile summit with Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But entertainment channel TNT, owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, on Thursday said it would no longer air the series.

"I am very sorry," the show was scrapped, Zelensky said during a late-night talk show appearance on Thursday evening.

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Tropical Indonesia’s tiny glaciers to melt away in a decade: study

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Indonesia's little-known glaciers are melting so fast they could disappear in a decade, a new study says, underscoring the imminent threat posed by climate change to ice sheets in tropical countries.

As the COP 25 summit wraps up in Madrid, nations are struggling to finalize rules for the 2015 landmark Paris climate accord, which aims to limit global temperature rises.

Thousands of kilometers away, glaciers on a mountain range in Indonesia's Papua region -- and a handful of others in Africa and the Peruvian Andes -- are an early warning of what could be in store if they fail.

"Because of the relatively low elevation of the (Papua) glaciers... these will be the first to go," said Lonnie Thompson, one of the authors of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

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