Italy’s Salvini says coalition government won’t change after EU election – CNBC

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, denied he will look to change a coalition agreement in Rome if his Lega party performs well at this weekend’s EU elections.

Tensions in Italy’s government appear to be growing with differences of opinion between the right-wing Lega party and left-leaning Five Star Movement (M5S) becoming more pronounced. The unlikely alliance came to power in June last year but the campaign trail for the EU Parliamentary elections has unveiled large rifts between the two.

“This vote is about Europe, to change Europe, to change banks, agriculture, borders,” Salvini told CNBC’s Willem Marx in Bari, Italy, on Tuesday when asked about a possible relationship breakdown with M5S.

“Nothing is going to change within the Italian government. I just hope that, after the election, our relationship with the Five Star Movement will be less confrontational. But even if I win, we won’t ask for more ministers, we are not going to change anything,” he added.

ROME, ITALY – NOVEMBER 29: The Vice President of the Council and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini attends the television show ‘L’aria che tira’.

Simona Granati – Corbis | Corbis News | Getty Images

Populist parties in Europe are polling well ahead of the vote and the anti-immigration Lega party is excepted to make gains. In last year’s general election, M5S gathered the most votes but has lost popularity over time, while its coalition partner gathered momentum.

Cracks in the veneer have appeared and differences of opinion on policy and ideology seem to be turning into more of a daily occurrence. Political experts have speculated that a decent result for Salvini at Sunday’s election could spur him to wrestle for more power, or change the contract the Italian coalition is built on.

However, Salvini told CNBC: “There are too many things to do, like the fiscal reform, the education reform and the justice reform. I go on, nothing is going to change.”

Wolfango Piccoli, the co-president of political consultancy firm Teneo Intelligence, is one such analyst that believes a solid result for Lega is likely to lead to a reshuffle in Rome.

“Matteo Salvini’s Lega is set for a convincing win, overtaking the M5S, but is not expected to do as well as polls had suggested until recently,” Piccoli said in a research note Tuesday.

“While a cabinet reshuffle and/or a possible modification of the Lega-M5S government program are possible in the aftermath of the Lega overtaking the M5S, an outright collapse of the coalition government leading to snap polls in (the second half of 2019) remains unlikely,” he added.

—CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.