Repetitive calls for extra time fuel coalition doubts

ROME – The anti-establisment Five Star leader, Luigi Di Maio, along with the anti-migrant, Euroskeptic League counterpart, Matteo Salvini, were to meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Tuesday to resume government talks amid growing indications that the incongruous couple cannot reach agreement, political sources said.

 The settlement on a candidate to become Prime Minister hit further turbulence on Monday as the parties admitted they would need a few days to ascertain whether an M5S-League coalition is feasible.

 Pessimism encapsulated an unproductive day at the Quirinal Palace following promising signs over the weekend. However, Mattarella was willing to grant the parties more time in the hope of putting together the final touches of a coalition government and bypass the prospect of re-elections in the summer.

 “We are aware of international deadlines, but we asked for another day because we are writing a five-year government programme,” Di Maio said.

 Yet, this constant desire for extra time appears to be the strongest unifying factor between the conflicting parties.

 M5S-League delegations are still rummaging around to find an agreement on what Salvini described as “different or distant visions” on justice, large infrastructure projects and security, whilst objectives in negotiations become increasingly divergent.

 Should an understanding be found, successfully agreeing on the primary task of appointing a Prime Misister, the final pact will have to overcome one final hurdle; Di Maio has demonstrated that the contract must be presented to the M5S online vote in order to decide whether to proceed in the coalition.

 “We do not want to make fun of the President of the Republic and the Italians,” Salvini said after Monday’s consultations with Mattarella, adding that “if we are not able to do what Italians ask us, let's not even start and say goodbye.”

 Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, was set to meet with representatives of the M5S at 16.30 on Tuesday, followed by separate talks with the League at 18.00, in order to set straight the meandering talks towards a coalition government.