Di Maio talks tough spurring PD doubt

Clash on changing Salvini's migrant-security decrees

(ANSA) - Rome, August 30 - Anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio gave a tough press conference after government-formation consultations with premier-designate Giuseppe Conte Friday spurring doubts within his potential partner, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), about whether he had changed his mind on teaming up for a new executive.
    Di Maio said that "if our points go into the (M5S-PD) government programme we'll be able to start otherwise the vote is better", giving Conte a 20-point programme.
    On perhaps the most contentious point, Di Maio said the M5S did not want to change anti-migrant League leader and outgoing interior minister Matteo Salvini's controversial hardline migrant and security decrees mandating one million euro fines for NGO rescue ships and barring them from Italian waters.
    Changing the decrees is a key demand from the PD, which wants to completely revoke them.
    After Di Maio's speech, PD deputy leader Andrea Orlando said: "Di Maio's press conference was incomprehensible. Has he changed his mind? He should say so, clearly".
    And PD House Whip Graziano Delrio said "Di Maio's ultimatums are unacceptable".
    Earlier Democratic Party (PD) leader Nicola Zingaretti confirmed that the PD wants "changes made" to salvini's decrees according to Constitutional points raised by President Sergio Mattarella about respecting international treaties about migrant sea rescues.
    But contradicting Zingaretti, Di Maio said that changing Salvini's security and migrant decrees "doesn't make any sense".
    He said that President Sergio Mattarella's observations on the measures, that they don't respect international obligations, "must be taken into account" "but without modifying the scope of these measures". He said "I have said that we do not deny these 14 months in government".
    Di Maio said that "either we agree to realise the points in our programme or we don't go forward. We're not looking at a government just to get by, we consider some of the points of the document essential".
    Di Maio said that "among the M5S priorities there is the cut in the number of MPs (from 945 to 600)." He said "two hours' parliamentary work are lacking and then it becomes law, it must be approved in the first schedule of the House and become law".
    Di Maio also said that the new government must stop a VAT hike, and it was against a wealth tax. He said environmental protection would not be "just a slogan" for the new government.
    Di Maio said that the new government must revoke motorway concessions to Autostrade per l'Italia (ASPI) in the wake of the Genoa bridge disaster and approve "a serious law on conflict of interest".
    He added that the M5S delegation had in the talks with Conte voiced our dismay for the surreal debate on posts. The speculation on ministerial posts was predictable, with fantasy names. but we don't find it healthy that these debates should contaminate the political forces too". Di Maio said "we were in government for 14 months, then (Salvini) decided to bring everything down wasting a historic opportunity".
    Di Maio's tough talking prompted reporters to ask Conte if the speech had made it harder to form a government.
    Conte replied that he had not heard it.
    Earlier Zingaretti said after his own consultations with Conte that ISTAT figures showing stagnant growth and unemployment and inflation both up confirm the need for a "turnaround" from the new government.
    "It was a meeting which took place on the day in which ISTAT unfortunately confirms some negative data for our economy, data which confirm the need for a turnaround and the need to open what the premier-designate himself called a new political season for the country," said the PD chief.
    Zingaretti pledged a tax cut on medium to low wage earners.
    He said he hoped the M5S-PD government programme would be a "turning point for the country".
    Zingaretti said he had not spoken about a government team with Conte, that 10 billion euros should be invested in the health sector, and that urban security should be a focus of the government programme, replacing what has "hitherto been propaganda".
    He also said that education should be free for medium-to-low earning households "from nursery school to university".
    The programme, and the list of ministers, are not the only hurdles facing the possible new government.
    Others are Di Maio's insistence on keeping the deputy premier's job, and the M5S's determination to have any government deal ratified on its online platform Rousseau.
   

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