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article imageItaly's anti-establishment parties set to announce power-sharing deal

By AFP     May 14, 2018 in World

A deeply eurosceptic far-right party and an anti-establishment group are set to unveil a coalition government agreement and name a new Italian prime minister on Monday, ending over two months of political deadlock.

The leaders of the anti-immigrant League party and Five Star Movement will meet the Italian president on Monday afternoon to share details of a government programme for the eurozone's third largest economy, thrashed out over the weekend.

Five Star's Luigi Di Maio will meet president Sergio Mattarella at 1430 GMT, while Matteo Salvini will bring a League delegation to the head of state's office at 1600 GMT.

A Five Star representative told AFP on Monday that the pair want to present the details of their agreement -- including their prime ministerial candidate -- to the president before making them public.

Di Maio said that the nominee would be a politician and "not a technocrat" after meeting Salvini in Milan on Sunday.

If Mattarella accepts the nomination then the position could be filled within days.

Italy, one of six founding members of what became the European Union, has been stuck in a political quagmire since its inconclusive March 4 election, which was dominated by a struggling economy, the refugee crisis and illegal immigration.

The partnership between Salvini and Di Maio would represent a blow to mainstream European political parties across the continent.

According to Italian media reports, their nominee for prime minister is likely be from a "third party" and will have to be able to make the eurosceptic nature of the new government workable with Brussels.

- EU a 'gulag' -

Salvini has in the past referred to the EU as a "gulag" and struck alliances with anti-union figures such as Viktor Orban and Marine Le Pen.

Di Maio has softened Five Star's previously antagonistic tone on Europe, but his party and the League have vowed to take tough stances with Brussels on issues like EU fiscal rules amid widespread Italian discontent over the country's economic malaise and a lack of European solidarity on dealing with migration.

The parties have reportedly agreed on rolling back increases to the age of retirement while Five Star is broadly willing to follow the League's hardline anti-immigration policies.

Salvini and Di Maio are also ready to make compromises over their flagship policies -- the League's drastic drop in taxes and Five Star's universal basic income -- which look tricky to reconcile in one of the eurozone's most indebted countries.

Officials in Brussels have warned Italy for years about its fiscal discipline and the need to lower its debt load.

There are also some policy sticking points between the League and Five Star -- such as on major public works like the Turin-Lyon high-speed railway -- and they also need to agree on representation from the parties.

The League won 17 percent of votes in March, but it was part of a right-wing alliance including Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party that garnered 37 percent of the vote.

Five Star won more support than any other single party with 33 percent of the vote.

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