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Matteo Salvini
Rome

Italian anti-euro party looking strong as coalition talks gain momentum

The party of Matteo Salvini is in pre-election talks with Silvio Berlusconi about forming a coalition, in what may become a nightmare for the European Union leadership.

Published: January 6, 2018, 9:20 am

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    Polls show that such a coalition would garner 40 percent of the vote, enough to secure a win in the coming March elections.

    Salvini from the Lega Nord, or Lega, has held a series of talks with the country’s four-time prime minister in a bid to cement their centre-right partnership. They have discussed key policies according to Italian media reports, which include reducing taxes, creating jobs and fighting illegal immigration.

    Salvini has said the bloc needed to change or it would “cease to exist”, adding that Brussels should stop meddling in member state’s affairs.

    Lega Nord has questioned the use of the euro, with Salvini claiming the currency is a failed experiment that is heading towards “catastrophe”. His rising popularity has caused panic in Brussels.

    Last year already Salvini warned: “I believe that one single currency for 18 economies, each different in its own way, that just won’t work in the long term. But statistics here is more important than anything else.

    “Look, since the introduction of the common currency Italy’s debt has risen by €900billion.”

    The Greek economy, which has the same problems, is not large enough to be a major annoyance to the other European economies. But with Italy’s debt, Europe would not be able to cope with a similar scenario.

    Salvini said economic experts agreed with his statements. “Six Nobel Prize winners are unanimous in saying that this experiment has failed and we should not go any further down this road.

    “Yes, we understand that there is no way to hold a referendum on the euro. But we are determined to become part of the government and that is why we invited economists to figure out what we should do when the euro collapses, since we should not rule out this possibility, what to do to prevent a catastrophe.”

    Both Italy and Greece are held back by the fiscal constraints that the euro’s rules impose. Neither have generated sufficient growth, and the only alternatives looming are a restructuring of debt or an exit from the common currency.

    The Italian economy is simply too large compared to the eurozone one for a rescue of the Greek type to be possible. According to Forbes magazine, analysis points out that with the various cross guarantees of debts within the eurozone, an Italian default would make French finances extremely shaky, that in turn could even spread to German banks.

    Lega Nord has vowed to honour last October’s referendum to grant greater autonomy for the wealthy Lombardy and Veneto regions, which is yet another source of potential conflict with the EU.

    Both regions, which include Venice and Milan, overwhelmingly backed more independence from Rome. It is expected that Berlusconi and Salvini will hold another meeting in the coming days in a bid to make further progress on these issues too.

    “There are still no appointments set with the allies, today I will call Silvio Berlusconi and then we will see in the coming days,” Salvini told the media.

    Officials in Lazio and Lombardy have agreed to hold their regional elections on the same day as the March 4 general elections, sources said Friday.

    Governors Nicola Zingaretti and Roberto Maroni have asked the interior ministry to manage the respective regional elections, the sources said.

    Earlier The prefect of Milan, Luciana Lamorgese, was said to be ready to sign a measure calling regional elections in Lombardy for March 4, the same date as the general election, thus creating what Italians call an ‘Election Day’.

    The general election will take place on a single day, Sunday March 4, from 07:00 to 23:00. The polls will not stay open as they have in the past on Monday morning, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

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