Italy's League boss says markets should not fear centre-right government

The head of the anti-migrant, euroskeptic League, which emerged from Italy’s elections as the largest party in the centre right, said Monday the grouping would be able to govern and markets have no reason to fear.

“We have right and duty to govern,” Matteo Salvini told a news conference a day after parliamentary elections.

Salvini also repeated his stance that the euro is bad for Italy, saying “it’s a wrong currency and a wrong choice.”


Luigi Di Maio’s 5-Star Movement, on track to win 32.3 per cent of the vote, was formed less than 10 years ago to appeal to voters who are angry with both right- and left-wing parties. (lessandro Bianchi/Reuters )

“The euro was, is and remains a mistake,” he said, adding, however, that holding a referendum over Italy’s continued participation in the single currency was “unthinkable.”

He said his party, which won nearly 18 per cent of the vote — up from four per cent five years ago — would be willing to talk to all parties, but indicated it would not take part in a “minestrone” soup coalition, apparently referring to a broad coalition government.

The four-party, centre-right grouping looks set to win about 37 per cent of the vote. The League has overtaken former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italy party as the largest in the coalition. Forza Italia won nearly 14 per cent of the vote.

While both League and the populist 5-Star Movement made gains in Sunday’s parliamentary election, no single group got enough support to govern alone.

“It could take weeks to figure out a government because nobody has enough votes for a majority,” said CBC’s Megan Williams, reporting from Rome.

“This is typically an Italian situation,” Williams said. “We’ve seen this before. What could happen is the current government could stay in power, and if they’re not able to form a government, we could see elections sooner than people want.”

Populist parties have been on the rise across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis. Italy’s mainstream parties have found it especially hard to contain voter anger, with the economy still six per cent smaller than a decade ago and unemployment stuck at about 11 per cent.

With a shift away from mainstream parties, the FTSE MIB index in Milan was down 1.2 per cent Monday, on a day when global markets were trading higher.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is celebrating the strong showing of the League party.

‘The awakening of the people’

Le Pen, runner-up in last year’s French presidential election and a loud critic of the European Union, tweeted Monday: “The spectacular advance and top showing of the League coalition led by our ally and friend Matteo Salvini is a new stage in the awakening of the people!” Le Pen didn’t mention the strong showing of the 5-Star movement.

As the initial results came in, Le Pen also tweeted, “The European Union is having a bad evening….”

Le Pen’s National Front party has lost steam and been in crisis since her crushing presidential defeat by pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Macron didn’t immediately comment on the Italian result.

Italy urged to be ‘constructive’ about EU

A German trade lobby group is urging Italy’s next government to be “constructive” about the European Union’s future course to ensure the two countries’ economies continue to thrive.

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry says it is “of great importance for the German economy whether Italy can form a stable government and continue following the path of reform it has set out on.”

In a statement Monday, the group’s managing director, Martin Wansleben, noted Italy is Germany’s sixth biggest trading partner, with a 2017 bilateral trade volume of 121 billion euros ($ 192 billion Cdn). Germany is Italy’s biggest export market.

Wansleben said both countries have traditionally shaped the European single market and “that must not change with the new government, despite all tendencies in Italy to criticize the EU.”

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