Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Berlusconi Papering Over the Cracks in His Italian Alliance

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Welcome to Bloomberg’s pop-up newsletter for the Italian election. I'll be bringing you a daily roundup of everything from the campaign trail through to polling day on March 4, as well as the best features from our team on the ground.

On the news front today, Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini of the Northern League spent the weekend papering over recent spats that had raised doubts about their coalition. In a series of interviews, Berlusconi said that even if their “tone and language appeared different,” the coalition agrees on a platform – and that includes keeping the euro. Salvini followed Berlusconi on Rai3, saying “there’s more that unites us than divides us.”

The weekend’s polls continued to show no party with a clear majority. According to Ixe, the center-right coalition is at 35.9 percent (with Forza Italia alone at 17.3 percent), Five Star at 28.3 percent, and the Democratic Party at 22.1 percent.

Berlusconi and Salvini are putting their spat behind them.
Photographer: GIORGIO BENVENUTI/ANSA via AP Photo

You can trust me - that’s the message Five Star’s Luigi Di Maio is taking to northern Italy’s entrepreneurs. As John Follain reports, the populists’ base is in the poorer south but Di Maio is arguing that the same anti-establishment, anti-bureaucracy, and anti-tax message will benefit the more industrial north.

Quote of the day:
“We have plenty of Italian delinquents. We don’t don’t need to open our doors to those who arrive from around the world” – Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League

Right-wing extremists largely steered clear of confrontations during street protests this weekend. But as Vernon Silver explains, they were active on Facebook, and Facebook helped.

Poll Position

 

The third party in the center-right coalition, the right-wing Brothers of Italy, is often obscured by Berlusconi’s media omnipresence and Salvini’s antics. But its leader Giorgia Meloni grabbed some attention over the weekend with an attack on the Egyptian Museum in Turin for its plan to give Arab couples discounted admission. Meloni said that’s discrimination and she’ll fire the museum’s director if the coalition wins.

The economy will expand about 1.5 percent this year and growth should remain above 1 percent in the next two years, the Bank of Italy said Saturday. Bad debts declined 17 percent in December from a year ago.

Who’s tweeting: Contrasting approaches from the candidates... Berlusconi is promoting the economists who support his program, Salvini shared scenes of anti-racist protesters clashing with police during a rally in Macerata, which he said made him ashamed to be Italian, and Matteo Renzi of the Democratic Party shared photos of himself riding his bike in a Florence park.

Politics isn’t everything, but even in soccer, things aren’t going right for Fiorentina fan Renzi. His team lost 2-0 at home to Juventus. Milan supporters Berlusconi and Salvini saw their team win 4-1 at Serie A newcomers Spal. Di Maio’s Napoli beat Lazio 4-1 to hold on to first place in the league. 

In case you missed it, Five Star is picking up votes all over the country, Berlusconi may be closer than you think to a working majority, and Ray Dalio is shorting Italy.

— With assistance by Vernon Silver, and John Follain

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