Italy voters give verdict on new government programme

Milan (AFP) –


In a piazza in the centre of Milan, supporters of Italy's far-right League party came Sunday to cast their vote on the new government programme agreed by their party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

The coalition contract, published Friday by the two political forces, aims to end over two months of political deadlock after inconclusive elections in March.

Both parties have presented the contract to their voters for a symbolic, non-binding vote.

After publishing the deal on their direct democracy platform M5S announced Friday that it had been approved by 94 percent of those who voted, while League supporters were invited to vote this weekend.

"It's not ideal to govern with the Five Star Movement as we don't have a lot in common," said Giorgio Corti as he approached the voting gazebo covered with the blue League flags and posters of their nationalist leader Matteo Salvini.

The mechanic said he didn't agree with the M5S flagship policy of a basic universal income for Italy's poorest but that he would vote in favour of the contract all the same.

"I don't think money should be given to people who don't want to work, but I'll vote in favour of the contract rather than have a government of technocrats who no one elected," he said.

League voter Paolo Bertini was also voting in favour but only because "we have to have a government".

The engineer said he was worried about the feasibility of the coalition's ambitious economic policies.

"I'm concerned about the pension reform without offering a concrete alternative... There is a budget problem, we risk massively increasing our country's debt," he added, saying that he did not believe the coalition would go the distance and would be only "transitory".

- 'Listened to the people' -

Across the other side of town many M5S voters said they felt positive about it although some said they had concerns.

M5S voter Sergio Gau, a business consultant, said that rather than policy differences with the League, which wants to rein in immigration, he was more worried about the "xenophobic nature" of some within the party.

He said League leader Salvini's views were stronger than his own but "in some way it is right for our country to take measures to control immigration, we can't be the point of entry for everyone coming over".

Postal worker and Five Star voter Antonio Renna also voiced his concerns on the topic.

"I would have preferred something less tough on immigration because I think the way to deal with the situation is more through integration, but I think even on this topic the parties can come to an agreement" he said.

Despite their differences Renna said both the League and Five Star had "listened to the people in Italy" and can "work will together on a lot of points."

"Finally they are trying to make a government led by what the people need," he said.