Italian populists unveil joint government programme

Rome (AFP) –


Italian anti-establishment and far-right parties took a step closer to forming a government by publishing a joint policy programme on Friday.

More than two months of political deadlock looked to be to nearing a close with the unveiling of the plan by the Five Star Movement and the far-right League party.

The programme promises the end of austerity in the eurozone's third largest economy and seeks deep change in relations with the European Union.

"Today we have finally concluded the 'Contract for the Government of Change'. I'm very happy," wrote Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio on Facebook.

"These have been 70 very intense days... in the end we've managed to achieve what we announced in the electoral campaign."

The 58-page programme contains no mention of a unilateral exit from the eurozone, mooted in previous versions leaked to media.

But it rejected the austerity policies introduced after the global financial crisis.

"The government's actions will target a programme of public debt reduction not through revenue based on taxes and austerity, policies that have not achieved their goal, but rather through increased GDP by the revival of internal demand," the document read.

- No euro exit -

While an exit from the single currency is no longer proposed, the document announced the parties' intention to review "with European partners the economic governance framework" of the EU, including the euro.

The parties want a monetary union that is "appropriate for the current geopolitical and economic imbalances and consistent with the objectives of the economic union", it said.

The document featured a number of manifesto promises from the nationalist League.

These included hardline immigration and security proposals, pension reform and a plan to have just two tax rates, of 15 and 20 percent.

The League's hand can be seen in a proposal that Italy and the EU implement bilateral agreements with other countries in order to speed up the repatriation of illegal immigrants.

- Approval -

The programme also pledged to close all "illegal" Roma camps, set up a register of imams and immediately shut down "radical Islamic associations".

"Enough with newspaper and television lies, here is the reality," Salvini said in a Facebook post in which he unveiled the programme to his followers.

The joint programme will be put to Five Star members, who have until Friday evening to vote online whether to approve it.

The "contract" will also be put to a vote by League members.

If approved, the programme will then be presented to Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

On Thursday evening, League leader Matteo Salvini said it would be handed to Mattarella on Monday. By that time he and Di Maio are also expected to have chosen their candidate for prime minister.

Mattarella must agree to the parties' nominee before they can seek parliament's approval.

"I am very confident," Di Maio told supporters late Thursday in the northern town of Monza.

"We have created the basis for the government and the name of the prime minister will not be a problem."