Italy’s two largest right-wing parties have agreed that whichever one of them receives the most votes in the upcoming election will provide the prime minister in a future coalition government.
The separatist Northern League is currently outpolling former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s once-dominant Forza Italia. Together with the national-conservative Brothers of Italy, they would win around a third of the seats in parliament.
The ruling center-left and the populist Five Star Movement would each win another third.
Berlusconi comeback unlikely
Even if Forza Italia moves up in the polls, Berlusconi could not return to power. The octogenarian former media tycoon is barred from public office for two more years under a conviction for tax fraud.
Elections are due in the spring of 2018.
Salvini has more options
The Northern League’s Matteo Salvini stands a better chance — but not leading a right-wing coalition. The only way for him to find a majority, according to current polling, is to do a deal with the Five Star Movement.
Which is not impossible. Salvini has deemphasized the League’s traditional program of northern autonomy in favor of issues like crime, immigration, terrorism and the EU. The Five Stars are also Euroskeptic and have been willing to team up with right-wing parties, led by Nigel Farage, in the European Parliament.