politics

Five Star Leader Tells Rivals to Accept His Italian Election Win

Updated on
  • Di Maio needs allies to support him in confidence vote
  • Euroskeptic League challenging Five Star for right to govern

Luigi Di Maio

Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, told his “arrogant” political rivals to stop their scheming and let his party get to work on Italy’s problems after “a historic result” in last Sunday’s election.

Di Maio, 31, will lead the biggest party in the next parliament and appealed to his political opponents to give him the votes he needs to form a majority and become premier in an article in Wednesday’s La Repubblica newspaper. Di Maio’s refusal to offer ministerial jobs and his plans to ramp up spending on the poor despite Italy’s debts are a stumbling block for possible allies.

Luigi Di Maio

Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

“The importance of this vote is immense and marks a watershed,“ Di Maio wrote. “The citizens decided to trust us, giving us a historic result.” He said Five Star is the only party that won support across the country -- a jab at his main challenger Matteo Salvini, whose support was based in the north.

Di Maio and Salvini, head of the euroskeptic League, were the biggest winners from the election that saw mainstream parties routed. The League supplanted Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia as the dominant group within a center-right coalition that controls the largest number of lawmakers, while the incumbent Democratic Party slumped to the worst result in its history.

The center-right is set to win 265 seats in the 630-strong lower house of parliament and Five Star 227 seats, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Interior Ministry data.

Di Maio called on other parties to support his plans to reduce poverty, cut “crazy” taxes on businesses and tackle youth unemployment.

“Now cannot be the time for the start of puppet theaters, of palace games and strategies worthy of House of Cards,” he said. “Politics must stop being arrogant and start to be humble.”

Berlusconi endorsed Salvini’s claim, however, insisting for the first time since the election that his party would honor the terms of their coalition agreement on who should be prime minister.

“We will now loyally support Salvini’s attempt to create a government,” Berlusconi told Corriere della Sera. Berlusconi and Salvini had a deal that the party with the most votes would get to propose a candidate for premier to President Sergio Mattarella.

Berlusconi hinted at hopes that the ruling Democratic Party, whose leader Matteo Renzi has promised to resign after its humiliating defeat, might also lend a hand.

“The PD must quickly recover an identity and a role,” Berlusconi said. “A democracy needs a modern and democratic party of the left.”

— With assistance by Hayley Warren

(Adds lower-house seat calculations in fifth paragraph.)
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