ROME – The leader of a right-wing Italian party maneuvered himself on Monday to the front of potential candidates for prime minister when he put the onus of forming a government on the center-right coalition his formation now leads, despite the hung parliament result of the country’s general elections.
Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration and euroskeptic League emerged the strongest party in the center-right coalition that also includes former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and took 37.3 percent of the vote, while the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) became the most successful single party with 32.4 percent.
“The center-right is the coalition that won and can govern,” the Federal Secretary told a press conference in Milan. “Italians have decided to take back this country, save it from precariousness and insecurity, from Renzi, from Brussels,” he added referring to Matteo Renzi, leader of the former governing Democratic Party (PD).
At a separate press briefing, M5S leader Luigi di Maio declared his party the “absolute winner” in the ballot and appeared to break with his party’s campaign stance by saying he would be open to coalition negotiations.
M5S, founded in 2009 by comedian and activist Beppe Grillo, rose to mainstream Italian politics on a tide of populist anti-establishment sentiment in the nation.
Party leaders were now expected to enter a period of negotiations in a bid to break the hung parliament.