Italian far-right party on fast track to government seats

 Italian far-right and anti-establishment leaders were locked in the final stages of negotiations over a coalition deal Thursday that could end over two months of political deadlock.

Populist Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio and head of the nationalist League Matteo Salvini were discussing the deal at the Italian parliament after a summit in Rome on Wednesday evening that Salvini’s spokesman Luca Morisi said was aimed at nailing down a “few issues”.

Both Di Maio and the strongly euroskeptic Salvini said that the final version of the “Contract for the Government of Change” and composition of ministers would be put to the parties’ members for approval.

On Wednesday officials representing president Sergio Mattarella said he would only scrutinize the final version of the contract.

Mattarella must agree to the parties’ as yet unannounced prime ministerial nominee before the person seeks the approval of parliament.

Both Di Maio and Salvini have remained tight-lipped over who will be their candidate for prime minister. The Five Star leader only said it would be “a political nominee who will be selected by both forces and have a well-defined mandate”.

A 40-page version of the document, from Tuesday evening, was leaked to daily Il Fatto Quotidiano on Wednesday night.

The “contract” contains a proposed “conciliation committee”, a structure parallel to the parliament which would be responsible for settling any disagreements between the two political forces. Salvini admitted on Monday the sides had “different visions” on certain “key issues” such as immigration and infrastructure.

It also proposes that European Union sanctions against Russia be dropped immediately. It includes a watered-down section on the EU that no longer talks about exiting the single currency but asks that unspecified “certain responsibilities” be repatriated to individual member states.

The leaked version also contained a number of issues that still needed signing off, including possibly reopening discussions about EU rules and monetary policy.

Among other policies yet to be approved as of Tuesday evening were also whether asylum centers should “fully respect” migrants’ human rights, and the radical proposal to have just two tax brackets – 20 percent and 15 percent.

Also yet to be signed off were a register of religious leaders, a demand that all religious sermons be conducted in Italian, and that local consultations take place before any new mosques are opened.

The gap between Italy’s and Germany’s 10-year borrowing rates dropped four points to 147 after climbing 20 points to 151 on Wednesday – a sign that investor concerns over Italy’s financial stability had eased.

The Italian stock market opened on Wednesday with a slight increase of 0.3 percent after taking a 2.32 percent hit on Wednesday.