The Latest: Italy’s Democrats won’t join govt with populists
ROME (AP) — The Latest on Italy’s parliamentary election (all times local):
Italy’s ex-Premier Matteo Renzi says his center-left party will not join any government led by the anti-immigrant League party or the populist 5-Star Movement, the two victorious forces in Italy’s election.
Renzi said both those parties represent an anti-Europeanism that he would not support and said they had had used “verbal hatred” on his Democratic Party lawmakers. He said Matteo Salvini of the League and Luigi Di Maio of the 5-Stars had called his lawmakers mafiosi, labeled them corrupt and said they had blood on their hands.
Renzi says “if this is who we are, govern without us. Know that our place in this legislation is in the opposition.”
Renzi acknowledged that his party suffered a “total defeat” in Sunday’s general election and said he would resign as party leader after a new government has been sworn in.
A League politician who sparked outrage with remarks defending “our white race” against immigrants has won the presidency of the northern Lombardy region.
Preliminary results Monday showed Atilio Fontana with 54 percent of the vote, riding the League’s popular surge in Sunday’s Italian elections to an insurmountable lead over the second-place candidate from the center-left.
Fontana blamed the remark on a lapse. But it apparently didn’t dent his popularity with voters in the wealthy northern state and League stronghold.
In January, Fontana told Radio Padania, the mouthpiece of his anti-migrant League party, that being unwilling to “accept all” immigrants isn’t “xenophobic or racist,” but logical. He said Italy needs to decide “if our white race, our society, must continue to exist or be canceled out.”
A top aide for German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that despite Italy’s election showing no faction winning a clear majority, she hopes “Italy will manage to build a stable government and especially a government in the spirit of Europe.”
The general-secretary of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said Monday in Berlin, “the view across the Alps to Italy today is not an easy one, because it’s not foreseeable after this difficult result ... how long it will take to get a government, whether there will be one at all, and who will lead such a government.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer says Italy’s election result also raises more general questions about what’s needed to keep together society, what unites it and how to secure wealth -- not just in Italy, but also in Germany.
Political analyst Wolfango Piccoli says that the Italian election “has radically transformed Italy’s political landscape and its repercussions will be long-lasting.”
Piccoli, co-founder of the Teneo Intelligence consultancy, says that negotiations to form a new government will be “prolonged and the outcome uncertain.”
Piccoli said Monday that the center-right is best positioned to form a government, expected to secure 250-260 seats in the 630-member lower house. Still it will fall short of the 316 needed to control a majority.
The 5-Stars are expected to get 230 seats.
Roberto D’Alimonte, a political scientist at Rome’s LUISS University, says it will be difficult to form a government that doesn’t include the 5-Star Movement, given their result as the No. 1 party. He suggests they could form a minority government with support from outside the party -- but that it is not clear whether that support could come from the left or the right.
French President Emmanuel Macron says he is “cautious at this stage” about the results of Italy’s election, but says the country has clearly suffered from the migrant crisis.
In a news conference Monday at the Elysee Palace, Macron referred to the “brutality of the context” in Italy and said the country has been under “heavy migratory pressure” for months, in an implicit reference to the strong showing of the anti-immigrant, euroskeptic League party.
He says, “We must keep that in mind” as a backdrop to the election.
Macron says France will keep advocating for strong pro-European views in the coming years.
Germany hopes Italy will get a stable government despite Sunday’s elections showing no faction winning a clear majority.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert says that while the final election results aren’t known yet “we wish those in positions of responsibility there success in forming a stable government, both for the good of Italy as well as the good of our common Europe.”
Seibert told reporters Monday that Berlin will reach out to the new government, whoever leads it, because “Italy is one of our most important European partners and a country we have a deep friendship with.”
Asked whether Merkel had any tips for Italy on forming a government under difficult circumstances, he said: “In principle one would wish everyone that it takes less than six months.”
The leader of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, says the party’s strong showing throughout Italy means that it should run the next government.
Di Maio spoke less than an hour after the head of the League made the same claim on the part of the center-right coalition, which collectively has more votes than the 5-Stars. The assertions underline the difficulties that President Sergio Mattarella will have in tapping someone to form a government, as neither of the blocs has enough to govern alone.
Di Maio said that “we are a political force that represents the entire nation. We represent the whole boot, from Val D’aosta to Sicily.” He said the successes of the other groups were more regional.
He called the vote “post-ideological. It goes beyond the left and the right,” and instead turned on themes like immigration and work.
The 5-Star movement tripled the number of parliamentarians over the last election in 2013, when it was also the first party but only by a hair’s breadth and the government went to the Democratic Party.
The leader of Italy’s right-wing euroskeptic League says his party’s surge at the voting booths was due to its economic proposals — not its anti-immigration stance.
Matteo Salvini said Monday that the migrant issue was just “one problem” facing Italy and that the League has clear ideas on how to resolve that.
Salvini said voters were attracted by “the idea that Italy recovers, works, that every once in a while stays home on Sunday to enjoy its own children, have grandparents who don’t die in assembly lines.”
Salvini also cited his party’s proposals to overturn pension reforms, introduce a flat tax and cut bureaucracy.
His group captured nearly 18 percent of the Italian national vote on Sunday, and the right-wing bloc of parties allied with the League won 37 percent overall.
A German trade lobby group is urging Italy’s next government to be “constructive” about the European Union’s future course to ensure the two countries’ economies continue to thrive.
The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry says it is “of great importance for the German economy whether Italy can form a stable government and continue following the path of reform it has set out on.”
In a statement Monday, the group’s managing director Martin Wansleben noted Italy is Germany’s sixth-biggest trading partner, with a 2017 bilateral trade volume of 121 billion euros ($149 billion). Germany is Italy’s biggest export market.
Wansleben said both countries have traditionally shaped the European single market and “that must not change with the new government, despite all tendencies in Italy to criticize the EU.”
The head of Italy’s anti-migrant, euroskeptic League party says the shared European euro currency is “wrong” and is ultimately destined to end.
In Italy’s national election on Sunday, Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League party did better than expected — getting nearly 18 percent of the vote — to take the reins of the center-right bloc, which captured about 37 percent of the total vote.
That is not enough to govern Italy alone, however, and Salvini says he will now begin talks with possible partners to secure a parliamentary majority.
In his first comments Monday, Salvini repeated his stance that the euro was bad for Italy. He says “it’s a wrong currency and a wrong choice.”
Salvini has acknowledged previously, however, that the Italian constitution bars holding a referendum on leaving the shared currency.
Italy’s stock market is down after populist and stridently anti-European Union political forces did well in Sunday’s parliamentary election, though no single group got enough support to govern alone.
The FTSE MIB index in Milan was down 1.2 percent, on a day when global markets were trading higher.
Analysts say the strong showing by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League party means it’s less likely the next Italian government will try to make the economy more pro-business. It is more likely to increase government spending, which could help growth but could also add to public debt, which is already above a worryingly high 130 percent of GDP.
Jane Foley, head of foreign exchange strategy at Rabobank International, said Monday “there are clear negative implications for the eurozone from the election result. At the very least, the political environment suggests that the progress of any structural reform in Italy will be difficult.”
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s anti-migrant euroskeptic League party, says the center-right bloc has won “the right and the duty to govern” Italy.
Salvini said Monday the result indicates a center-right bloc will lead the next government and that his party had would lead the center-right, after eclipsing center-right ally partner Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia in the vote.
The League jumped from 4 percent of the vote five years ago to nearly 18 percent in Sunday’s vote, ahead of Forza Italia, which had nearly 14 percent.
Salvini also indicated he was not interested in what he called “strange coalitions,” such as having the League join in a government with the populist 5-Star Movement.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is celebrating the strong showing of the anti-immigrant, euroskeptic League party in Italy’s election.
Le Pen, the runnerup in last year’s French presidential election and a loud critic of the European Union, tweeted Monday: “The spectacular advance and top showing of the League coalition led by our ally and friend Matteo Salvini is a new stage in the awakening of the people!” Le Pen didn’t mention the strong showing of the League’s rival, the 5-Star movement.
As the initial results came in, Le Pen also tweeted, “The European Union is having a bad evening....”
Le Pen’s National Front party has lost steam and been in crisis since her crushing presidential defeat by pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Macron didn’t immediately comment on the Italian result.
Alexis Corbiere of the far-left Defiant France party said Monday on BFM television, “There is a deep wish for change in Europe. If a progressive, civic-minded force doesn’t take the lead, you will manufacture monsters.”
Preliminary results released by Italy’s interior ministry show the center-right coalition winning about 37 percent of the parliamentary vote and the 5-Star Movement getting about 31 percent, with the center-left coalition far behind with 23 percent.
With no faction winning a clear majority, the results early Monday confirm that negotiations to form a government that can win a confidence vote in Parliament will likely be long and fraught.
The partial results show the right-wing, anti-immigrant and euroskeptic League party of Matteo Salvini surpassing the establishment Forza Italia party of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi. The League captured around 18 percent, while Forza Italia had less than 14 percent.
The results confirm the defeat of the two main political forces that have dominated Italian politics — Forza Italia and the center-left.