European Interest

Italy’s 5-Star movement in the air

Flickr/Revol Web/CC BY-SA 2.0
Luigi Di Maio has recently softened the party’s anti-euro rhetoric, saying 5-Star is “pro-Europe”.

Italy should abandon the euro currency unless it manages to change the bloc’s rules on public finances. So said the leader of Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio.

5-Star, which leads in opinion polls ahead of an election expected in March, says if it wins power it will lobby Italy’s EU partners to loosen the so-called Fiscal Compact which imposes steep budget cuts for high-debt countries like Italy.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the maverick party threatens to hold a referendum on Italy’s euro membership unless it is allowed to boost public investment and raise the budget deficit above the current limit of 3% of gross domestic product.

Di Maio has recently softened the party’s anti-euro rhetoric, saying 5-Star is “pro-Europe” and calling the euro referendum a “last resort” to be used only if Italy is unable to win any concessions.

“If we should arrive at the referendum, which for me is a last resort because first I want to go to Europe and try to change a series of rules… it’s clear that I would vote to leave, because it would mean Europe hasn’t listened to us on anything” he said in a television interview on Monday.

“But today I see an opportunity for Europe [to reform]”, he told the private station La7.

Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party (PD), said in a tweet that “this time Di Maio has been clear… he would vote to leave the euro. I say it would be madness for the Italian economy.”

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