Mattarella praises female ‘attitude,’ Salvini refuses deals

President Mattarella in Nov at an event against violence towards women.

ROME – President Sergio Mattarella celebrated International Women’s Day on Thursday by saying the country “needs responsibility” as Italy’s major parties jockey for the right to form Italy’s next government.

 In the coming weeks and months, the task will fall to Italy’s president to appoint a figure from the country’s divided political landscape.

 However, during celebrations at the Quirinal Palace, President Mattarella suggested that Italy’s female parliamentarians were a model for the country’s leading parties as they try to navigate a way out of the political deadlock.

 “Women parliamentarians,” Mattarella argued, “have, often, when necessary, known how to get on with each other; and operate, work and fight together. I believe this represents a republican lesson.” In particular, Mattarella highlighted the work of women in reforming rights and laws regarding the family.  

 “We will always need this attitude,” Mattarella continued, “this sense of responsibility in knowing how to situate at the centre the general interest of the country and of its citizens.”

 Irrespective of Mattarella’s talk of compromise, the Northern League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, has said he has put aside the idea of striking a cross-party deal. “I’m not thinking of agreements with parties,” Salvini asserted, “as I have already said.”

 Instead talk for the centre-right has turned to putting together a programme to be presented to Parliament, with parties supporting or rejecting elements on a more ad hoc basis.

 “We are working on a programme,” Salvini stated during a visit to Milan, “that we will offer to parliamentarians and to Parliament. On some points, we will see who will give us a hand in bringing them forward and who instead says no regardless.”

 Therefore, there would be “no permanent agreements, either with the Democratic Party nor with the Five Star Movement (M5S), nor with Boldrini,” the leader stressed. “We are the first coalition, we are the first party of the coalition and they haven’t asked us to stay at the window to watch what happens,” he added.

 One development in the right-wing coalition that has been causing a stir, is the growing relationship between Salvini and the Forza Italia Governor of Liguria, Giovanni Toti. On Wednesday, the pair had lunch together and Toti has made it clear that he believes the right needs to be re-orientating around Salvini’s lead, in comments that will likely annoy Forza’s leader, Silvio Berlusconi.

 Toti said after the meeting that the “League has undeniably grown as a result of the merits of its leader.” The Governor continued that he felt that the more centrist forces within the right had been “revealed as old. It is like playing with the catenaccio style of the 1970s in 2018,” in reference to Italy’s famed defensive football strategy, and even speculated on the need for the formation of a single party.

 In the days since the election Luigi Di Maio, M5S’s leader, has looked to woo the PD to his cause. However, La Repubblica reported that Andrea Orlando, current Justice Minister, believed that 90 percent of the heads of the PD were against an alliance with Italy’s largest party.

 The party was nonetheless still in “chaos” according to the paper, following Matteo Renzi’s resignation, with calls from Luigi Zanda that the party “must open a new phase that must involve seriously discussing the fact that we have sunken to 18 percent, a defeat of historic proportions.”

 Likewise, there are figures within the party open to talks. The Governor of Piedmont, Sergio Chiamparino, appeared open to the idea though he stressed the impetus lay with M5S to offer a deal, rather than the PD. “To M5S,” the governor stated, “I say: tell the country, and Parliament, what you want to do, what are your political and programmatic proposals.”