Chamber of deputies speaker Fico to explore possible M5S-PD alliance

New exploratory government formation mandate after talks with Lega fail

Chamber of deputies speaker Roberto Fico of the anti-establishment Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) has been asked to explore the possibility of forming a government alliance between his party and the Partio Democratico (PD).

He received the so-called exploratory mandate from President Sergio Mattarella on 23 April in another attempt to end the political deadlock that has gripped Italy since inconclusive general elections on 4 March, after two rounds of government-formation talks and a first mandate given to Senate speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati to explore an accord between the M5S and the centre-right coalition led by Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigrant and euroskeptic Lega failed.

The PD has been bitterly divided over whether to dialogue with the populist movement, its arch-enemy in the last parliament, with former secretary Matteo Renzi and chairman Matteo Orfini staunchly opposed and acting secretary Maurizio Martina and other party heavyweights such as culture minister Dario Franceschini taking a softer line.

Fico, 43, is considered a chief exponent of the M5S’s ‘left-wing’ strand and so is in a good position to mediate between the centre left and his own leader, 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio, whose political alignment is more ambivalent.

Fico must report back to the president on 26 April. 

The Lega – the largest party in the centre-right coalition, which collectively took 37 per cent – and M5S – the biggest single party in parliament with 32 per cent – have been at loggerheads over the presence of Forza Italia in a future coalition government.

The PD saw its support slump to 23 per cent but remains the second biggest party in parliament.

Fico's mandate comes after the M5S suffered a defeat in local elections held in the small Molise region on Sunday.  The M5S candidate received 38.5 per cent of the vote, down from the 45 per cent it won in the March general elections. It lost to the candidate for the five-party right-wing alliance led Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini's Lega which won 43.3 per cent. However the M5S still remained the largest single party, well ahead of Forza Italia's 9.3 per cent and the Lega's 8.3 per cent.

In the Sunday elections the PD won only 9 per cent of the vote, about half of what it won in the March general elections.

Laura Clarke