Italy’s anti-establishment leaders try to avert poll

ROME: Italy’s anti-establishment political leaders Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio met on Thursday for last-ditch talks to resurrect a coalition government and avert a new snap election, the prospect of which has rattled global markets.
A source from Di Maio’s 5-Star Movement said there was hope of an agreement by Friday, but still no decision on a nominee for economy minister, a key post in any line-up.
There was no immediate indication from the League on the prospects of success.
President Sergio Mattarella torpedoed an initial attempt by the League and 5-Star to form a coalition, rejecting their candidate for the economy portfolio, 81-year-old economist Paolo Savona, a eurosceptic who has spoken out against the single currency.
Global financial markets have been recovering over the past two days after tumbling earlier this week over the prospect of a new Italian election dominated by debate over Italy’s future in the euro zone.
On Wednesday Di Maio made a last-ditch offer to resurrect the coalition bid, and Salvini said he would “seriously consider” it.
“You will have to be patient,” Salvini told reporters at Rome airport when asked about a possible solution to the crisis. He was whisked straight to parliament.
After rejecting Savona, Mattarella named former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli to form a stop-gap government of experts to lead the country to elections. But Cottarelli has so far failed to form a viable cabinet.
Di Maio, whose 5-Star emerged from the inconclusive March 4 elections as the largest single party, urged Salvini to drop his insistence on Savona for the economy portfolio and agree to give him another post.
“Di Maio — Salvini: the Final Deal,” was the headline in Corriere della Sera newspaper, echoing the national feeling of crisis put into a holding pattern. Salvini and Di Maio had agreed when they first tried to form a government that Giuseppe Conte, a little-known law professor, would be prime minister. — Reuters