New Italy PM could be independent figure, top 5-star member says

ITALY-POLITICS-GOVERNMENT

Outside the presidential palace in Rome.

Italy's 5-Star Movement and League neared a deal on Monday which they hope will fuse their very different election platforms into a workable coalition government, hours before pivotal talks with the country's president.

Mattarella is due to meet Di Maio at 4:30 pm local time and a delegation of the League at 6:00 pm.

On Wednesday, Mr Berlusconi seemed to give the green light for the League to go ahead without him, and its leader Matteo Salvini and the M5S's Luigi Di Maio have since met and agreed on a government program and a leader, according to local media. "This seems to be a shared commitment", Salvini said. Italian media has reported that the nominee will likely be from a third party, rather than an insider from either Lega or M5S.

After Berlusconi refused to have anything to do with the 5-Stars, who he regards as "more risky than communists", Salvini and Di Maio set out to negotiate an agreement to join forces in government.

A right-wing coalition including the League and Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI) party won 37 per cent of the vote in March 4 elections, while the M5S became Italy's largest single party with almost 33 per cent.

But the biggest single bloc is a center-right alliance of Salvini's League and Berlusconi's Forza Italia party that garnered 37 percent of the vote. Salvini and Di Maio are also willing to make compromises over their flagship policies - the League's drastic drop in taxes and the M5S's universal basic income - which look tricky to reconcile in the eurozone's second most indebted country.

He also said he wanted a free hand on migrants, where the League's positions were tougher than the M5S's. M5S is by far Italy's largest single party after conquering almost 33 percent of the electorate.

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