Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, has ruled out reneging on a right-wing pact and asked Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of the mainstream conservatives, to do the same.
Both parties get around 15 percent support in recent surveys. In combination with smaller right-wing parties, they might just reach the 40 percent needed to form a government.
If they fall short, Salvini could theoretically team up with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is polling at 26-28 percent.
Salvini and the Five Stars share views on Europe and political reform, but they come at it from opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Both have ruled out an alliance.
Berlusconi’s other option is a grand coalition with the ruling Democrats.
He previously teamed up with the center-left to support Mario Monti’s technocratic government. His one-time deputy, Angelino Alfano, is now a foreign minister in the Democratic-led government.
Berlusconi’s party is blunt about the prospect.
“If the coalition wins, which is what we’re hoping for, Salvini will have nothing to fear,” said one official quoted by Politico. “If we do not win, of course the natural thing would be to inquire about a coalition with others.”