As Italy's Political Crisis Worsens, Five Star Eyes Alliance With Democrats

Now that Italian President Sergio Mattarella has - at least for now - denied League leader Matteo Salvini the opportunity to become prime minister and refuses to rush into new elections that would almost certainly see Salvini emerge victorious as Italy's next PM, Salvini's former partner, Luigi di Maio is discussing the possibility of forming a coalition with the establishmentarian Italian Democratic Party.

The tie-up would be a strange one, even by the standards of Italian politics, as M5S (the acronym for the Five-Star Movement) has sought to market itself as an anti-establishment party - the one characteristic that it shared with Salvini's conservative, anti-immigration League.

The Democrats expressed their desire to join forces with M5S after Mattarella gave the parties the green light on Thursday.

According to Bloomberg, Mattarella holds the power to either appoint the next prime minister or call early elections.

Luigi Di Maio

The talks follow the anticipated resignation of Giuseppe Conte, Italy's former Prime Minister, earlier this week.

Conte's resignation came after Salvini withdrew support for the government. After months of political uncertainty, Salvini made his bid to consolidate power by pushing for fresh elections, intended to capitalize on the League's climbing popularity.

A coalition between the Democrats and M5S would deny Salvini his chance to become premier, at least in the short term. But the unlikely alliance between two parties that have little in common and have spent much of the past few years criticizing each other.

Opportunistic political alliances are hardly rare in Italy. But a link between the Dems and M5S would mark a compromise of M5S's anti-establishment principles, something that could help burnish Salvini's anti-establishment principles.