Italy elections: Populists Salvini and Di Maio vow tax cuts

Composite image of Matteo Salvini (right) and Luigi di Maio (left)Image copyright

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League chief Matteo Salvini (left) and Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio both want to lead Italy

The leaders of the two largest parties to emerge from Sunday’s general election in Italy have talked up their economic plans in a bid to win support.

Matteo Salvini of the anti-illegal migrant League promised to defy Brussels by cutting taxes and a top figure in the anti-establishment Five Star Movement also mooted tax cuts.

President Sergio Mattarella has called for “a sense of responsibility”.

Formal talks on creating a new government only start after 23 March.

That is when the new parliament picks speakers for the upper and lower houses.

What does Five Star propose?

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, party leader Luigi Di Maio said his party, which won 32% of the vote, was drawing up new economic proposals to be included in the outgoing government’s multi-year economic plan.

“We want to move quickly,” the Five Star leader said. “If the other parties want to propose other measures that will help people then we are ready to discuss them.”

The government’s plan must be submitted by 10 April. Mr Di Maio said his party’s proposals would act as a benchmark for coalition agreements with other parties.

Danilo Toninelli, tipped to be Five Star’s Senate floor leader, outlined the ideas to reporters.

“If we propose issues like universal income, lower taxes and an anti-corruption law, which are also present in the programmes of other political forces, they owe us an answer,” he said.

Commentators have speculated about a possible coalition between Five Star and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which leads the outgoing government.

Mr Di Maio said he would be open to talks with “all the parties, with no exception”.

However, acting Justice Minister Andrea Orlando of the PD said a tie-up with Five Star would be “impossible”.

What does the League propose?

It won 17.4% of the vote, relegating its centre-right electoral partner Forza Italia to second place on 14%.

League leader Matteo Salvini pledged economic plans “the opposite” of what the EU would want.

“I read that Brussels wants new taxes,” he said “We will present an alternative plan based on the opposite – less taxes. In Brussels they will be happy because everyone is happy if Italy grows.”

The League leader also made overtures to the PD, saying he hoped they would be available “to give a way out” to the country.

League envoys have reportedly been holding informal talks with PD dissidents, Bloomberg news agency reports.

However, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who pledged to step down as PD leader after the party’s disastrous election performance, ruled out any co-operation with either the League or Five Star.

Mr Salvini said he had “no personal ambitions” although he gave no indication he would step aside for someone else.

“The candidate [now] is Salvini but it could also be someone else that he puts forward, if that is what we agree together,” said Renato Brunetta, lower house leader of Forza Italia, the party founded by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr Berlusconi has said he will “loyally support” Mr Salvini’s efforts to form a government.

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