Italy’s Salvini says no vetoes after meeting with Draghi

Former European Central Bank chief’s route to parliamentary majority still unclear

Head of the Lega Nord (Northern League) party and senator Matteo Salvini. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty

Head of the Lega Nord (Northern League) party and senator Matteo Salvini. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty

 

Italy’s League leader Matteo Salvini said the right-wing party would decide next week whether to back a government led by Mario Draghi but common ground had emerged in discussions on Saturday.

“Unlike others we don’t think just saying no gets you anywhere ... the best interest of the country must come before any personal or party interest,” Mr Salvini told reporters after meeting the former European Central Bank chief.

Italy’s head of state Sergio Mattarella asked Mr Draghi on Wednesday to try to form an administration after the previous one, led by Giuseppe Conte, was brought down due to the collapse of the ruling coalition.

“We want to be part of a government that goes to Brussels keeping its head high in the name of the national interest,” Mr Salvini said.

The firebrand right-wing leader has changed tack repeatedly since Mr Draghi was given his mandate, first calling for snap elections, then saying he would not govern with the largest party in parliament, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

While on paper, the League’s willingness to join a coalition should make Draghi’s job easier, the situation remains complex and Mr Draghi’s route to a parliamentary majority is still unclear.

The centre-left Democratic Party has said it does not want to govern with the League, while 5-Star has yet to make its position clear.

Mr Draghi is now meeting 5-Star’s delegation led by its founder, the former comedian Beppe Grillo.

That meeting is the last in his first round of formal negotiations with parties. He will hold a second round next week in which he will try to overcome any mutual vetoes regarding his coalition make-up and policy proposals.

Italian financial markets have rallied on the expectation Mr Draghi will succeed. Last week Italy’s 10-year bond yield posted its biggest weekly drop since July, while the gap over the German Bund yield narrowed to its lowest in five years.

Investors hope the man widely credited with saving the euro during the 2012 sovereign debt crisis can spearhead reforms to boost growth in a country that has long underperformed its European peers, weighing down the whole euro zone. – Reuters