After more than a week of increasingly fraught negotiations that nearly blossomed into a full-blown political crisis, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the Democratic Party (PD) have reportedly struck a deal to form a new coalition government with Giuseppe Conte as prime minister, according to Italian newswire ANSA.
Earlier this month, League leader Matteo Salvini tried to dissolve the government by withdrawing his support for the coalition in an effort to try and call for new elections. However, he was thwarted when his former coalition partner, M5S leader Luigi di Maio, and his party engaged in negotiations with the centrist Democratic Party. On Wednesday night, the two parties finally reached an agreement to form a new coalition, with Conte - who had quit the government last week - returning to reprise his role as prime minister.
The deal represents a formal split between the M5S and Salvini's the League, the two anti-establishment parties who had governed the country in an increasingly dysfunctional coalition that paired the far-left and far-right parties.
Salvini’s hope was that the country would hold new elections in which he would likely be named prime minister, at the head of a hard-right coalition.
The coalition will now be tasked with the responsibility for leading Italy through what's expected to be difficult budget negotiations with the EU.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that the League, Salvini's party, is furious, pointing out that his party wont 34% of the national vote in May’s European parliament elections, and that it was polling as high as 39% as recently as earlier this month. Salvini affirmed that he would stay on as Interior Minister and Deputy PM in the lame duck government - members of his party urged supporters to take to the streets to protest the party. Salvini held back from calling for his people to march in the streets, saying he was "not interest" in "popular insurrections." "Those happened back in 1848," he quipped.
"Let’s hope that if a Democratic Party-Five Star government is formed, the people will rise up as soon as possible," said Alessandra Locatelli, a League minister.
"They’re stealing the government by preventing Italians from going to a vote," she said.
Salvini was similarly critical.
"A government made up of Five Star and the Democrats will not correspond to the sentiment of the people," Salvini said. "If you make deals that are against nature, in the end the people will kick you out. Sooner or later, the judgement of the people will be heard."
Since the new coalition has been formed, Italy will manage to avoid heading to new elections in the fall. Italian President Sergio Mattarella gave the coalition the mandate to former the new government. Conte will meet with Mattarella Thursday morning to be formally sworn in.