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1ST LEAD Italian election winners refuse compromises to end political crisis By Alvise Armellini, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rome (dpa) - Parties that came out top in Italy‘s inconclusive general elections - the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League - showed little willingness Tuesday to make concessions in upcoming government crisis talks.

In a March 4 election, a rightist coalition led by the League won the most votes, but the M5S was the single biggest party. Neither of the two blocs commands a parliamentary majority, leaving no obvious way to end the political stalemate.

"For sure I am not anxious to get into government at all costs and with anyone," League leader Matteo Salvini said in a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, as he ruled out a deal with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

"Never in my life I will govern with Renzi," he said, mentioning the former PD leader. "If, to get into government, I have to take on board those whom Italians rejected last week, then absolutely not," he added.

Meanwhile M5S prime ministerial candidate Luigi Di Maio said that in no way could his party offer government seats to eventual coalition partners. Di Maio evaded questions on what other concessions he could make and rejected the option of a national unity government.

"We are not prepared to conceive a different government team to the one backed by popular will," Di Maio told the Foreign Press Association in Rome, referring to the cabinet-in-waiting he unveiled before the elections.

Di Maio said it was up to others to come and offer ideas that could be taken up by the M5S. "[We want a] dialogue with everybody on issues, and on this I have not seen anyone make a single proposal," he said.

Salvini and Di Maio - who would have the parliamentary numbers to govern together, but have not expressed any will to do so - offered different public images. The League leader played up his euroscepticism while the M5S frontman stressed his moderate credentials.

Salvini ruled out a "sudden and solitary exit" from the eurozone but, if the European Union stonewalls his requests to renegotiate the bloc‘s rules and regulations, he has experts "who are working on a plan B."

Di Maio said his party‘s election manifesto "was never extremist," listed "the stability of the country" as a primary concern and told his foreign audience: "We want nothing to do with Europe‘s extremist parties."

In the European Parliament the M5S sits in the same group as Britain‘s UKIP and Germany‘s AfD, but under Di Maio the party has toned down its euroscepticism, dropping for example a pledge to hold a referendum on the euro.

President Sergio Mattarella is the man due to steer government coalition talks. He is expected to start meeting with party leaders in late March or early April but, if he sees no way out, he could set repeat elections for late 2018.

"This does not scare us," Di Maio said, amid predictions that new polls could hand even larger gains to protest parties, at the expense of mainstream forces like the PD or ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi‘s Forza Italia, which also polled badly on March 4.


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