>>>ANSA/ Di Maio insists on House Speakership for M5S
Centre right united before presidential call says Salvini
16 Marzo 2018
Rome, March 16 - Anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio reiterated Friday that the populist Euroskeptic group was insisting on getting the Speakership of the Lower House after Italy's hung parliament sits on March 23. Meanwhile anti-migrant, Euroskeptic League leader Matteo Salvini denied reports of a rift with three-time former premier and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, saying the centre right was "united" ahead of a call from President Sergio Mattarella, the arbiter of the government-formation process. Di Maio said the House Speakership going to the M5S was "essential" to "pave the way" for the abolition of 'vitalizi' parliamentary pensions. The M5S has long been waging a campaign to abolish these pensions, which can be accrued after a very short time in parliament. They are thus seen as the epitome of the waste and corruption that the M5S has always said it stands against, regarding other parties as inherently crooked. Di Maio said that the choice of the two Speakers - the other being in the Senate - was "crucial". This, he said, was because the officials are "the arbiters" of the parliamentary process. Di Maio spoke earlier this week to League leader Salvini, the other big winner of the March 4 general election, and observers think the rightwing populist League is likely to get the Speakership in the Upper House. The League scored an unexpectedly high 17.4% in the general election in a centre-right coalition that collectively got 37%, not enough for a parliamentary majority. Salvini's group overtook Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI) party, which got just over 14%, and thus Salvini earned the right to be the coalition's premier candidate. The M5S got 32% of the vote, becoming Italy's top party by far and eclipsing the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which slumped to its worst-ever result at just over 19% and prompted leader and ex-premier Matteo Renzi to resign. Salvini, for his part, said Friday that there were no rifts within the centre-right coalition ahead of consultations with President Mattarella on the formation of a new government. "There is total agreement with (Berlusconi's) Forza Italia and harmony on programme and intentions," Salvini said in a statement. Earlier this week Salvini suggested he was open to talking to the M5S on forming a new government but Berlusconi poured cold water on the idea. "As the leader of the centre right I speak and act in the name of all the allies," Salvini said. "We are working with them on a government team and programme, while I see that elsewhere it is not the same. "The PD argue among themselves and the M5S don't know what they want to do. "We continue on our road. We want to make parliament operative as soon as possible. "We await Mattarella's call".