Europe News

Italy's Berlusconi wants center right-5 Star government with agenda: paper

ROME (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants the center-right to team up with the 5-Star Movement to form a government with a pre-determined agenda, La Repubblica newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi gestures during a meeting in Rome, Italy, March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The newspaper said Berlusconi, leader of the Forza Italia party, told the head of his main center-right ally, the League’s Matteo Salvini, of his position during a meeting on Tuesday.

It quoted Berlusconi as saying during a meeting that he did not have any “preclusion” towards 5-Star.

Berlusconi told Salvini that the center-right could form a government with a specific, pre-determined agenda to tackle issues such as the economy, labor, security, and immigration, the newspaper said, without citing specific sources.

The March 4 election ended in a hung parliament, with a rightist coalition winning a combined 37 percent of the vote and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement emerging as by far the largest single party in parliament on 32 percent.

La Repubblica said Berlusconi’s strategy was to put the ball into 5-Star’s court so that they would have to assume responsibility if no government were formed.

Berlusconi and his center-right allies, which also include the smaller Brothers of Italy party, were due to meet in Rome later on Wednesday.

The League took some 17 percent of the overall vote, compared to 14 percent for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, putting the League in the driver’s seat of the center right.

The solution feared most by markets is a marriage between 5-Star and the League, excluding Forza Italia, which is seen a moderating, pro-European force.

The League and 5-Star on their own would have a parliamentary majority and there are some overlaps in their manifestos, with both calling for tax cuts, greater spending on welfare and a rejection of EU budget rules.

Both used to call for Italy to quit the euro, but while 5-Star says the moment has passed, the League says it still wants to leave the single currency at the earliest politically feasible time.

Salvini last year said he was open to hooking up with 5-Star, but has since said he will not abandon his rightist bloc.

President Sergio Mattarella is due to start his consultations with party leaders early next month.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Catherine Evans