Meeting between Italian coalition partners ‘constructive’

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Rome, May 22 (IANS/AKI) A meeting here between the far-right League party leader Matteo Salvini and populist Five-Star Movement head Luigi Di Maio was “calm and constructive”, the League said in a statement.

Salvini and Di Maio’s 90-minute meeting took place “in a canteen in central Rome and lasted about an hour and a half.

“Things are moving forward and discussions are centred on the final details ahead of a meeting with President (Sergio) Mattarella,” said the statement.

“I met Salvini. We are trying to form a government,” Di Maio told reporters as he arrived at the Italian lower house of parliament.

Di Maio and Salvini on Monday unveiled their pick of a premier to lead their nascent government – little known Italian law professor and political novice Giuseppe Conte – and on Tuesday held a meeting with the academic.

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It is understood Mattarella has significant reservations about the direction of the planned populist government and on Tuesday he convened a meeting with the leaders of Italy’s two houses of parliament.

The League and Five-Star issued their joint coalition plans last week which include a ‘flat tax’, a guaranteed minimum income and cancelling sanctions against Russia.

The common agenda rejects European Union austerity and wants to renegotiate Italy’s debt, putting Italy on a collision course with Brussels.

The two Eurosceptic parties won over half the votes in Italy’s inconclusive March 4 national polls that led to a hung parliament.

Several previous rounds of talks with Italy’s political leaders have collapsed amid a mesh of seemingly irreconcilable demands.

Five-Star is the biggest party while the centre-right alliance, led by Salvini, is the largest political bloc.

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