ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella dissolved parliament on Thursday ahead of an election scheduled to be held on March 4. [nL8N1OS20G]
Following are the main parties and leaders, some of their key policies, and how they stand in opinion polls:
Ruling Democratic Party, leader Matteo Renzi (42)
Policies: negotiate with Italy’s partners to abolish the EU’s Fiscal Compact which imposes steep budget cuts on high-debt countries such as Italy. Raise the budget deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product for five years in order to cut taxes and increase investment. Continuity in social and foreign policy, with Italy maintaining its traditional pro-NATO stance.
Support sliding in opinion polls, now at around 23 percent.
5-Star Movement, leader Luigi Di Maio (31)
Policies: universal income support to ensure monthly income of at least 780 euros ($925); renegotiate the Fiscal Compact; raise the budget deficit above 3 percent of GDP to cut taxes and increase investments; hold a referendum on euro membership if partners refuse any concessions on the Fiscal Compact; cut privileges of politicians, trade unions and well-off pensioners; repeal 2011 pension reform to allow earlier retirement; repeal 2014 labour reform to make firing harder; raise taxes on banks and oil and gas companies; toughen conflict of interest rules; cut red tape, abolishing 400 laws; scrap public financing of newspapers; separate banks’ retail and investment arms; improve relations with Russia.
Italy’s most popular party, according to polls. Support stable at around 28 percent.
Forza Italia, leader Silvio Berlusconi (81).
Policies: Introduce parallel currency for domestic use to boost the economy while keeping the euro for international trade and use by tourists; replace current staggered income tax rates with a single rate “flat tax” of around 23 percent for both individuals and companies; double monthly minimum pensions to 1,000 euros; abolish housing tax, inheritance tax and road tax on most cars; tax breaks for pet owners; guarantee minimum income of 1,000 euros per month for everyone; block the arrival of immigrants through accords with North African countries. Berlusconi is pro-NATO but boasts of his friendship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Berlusconi cannot run at the election due to a tax fraud conviction. He has not yet said who Forza Italia’s candidate for prime minister will be.
Support rising, around 16 percent, making it the most popular party in a centre-right coalition expected to win most seats at the election.
Northern League, leader Matteo Salvini (44).
Policies: Parallel currency for domestic use; push for abolition of the Fiscal Compact and Stability Pact; leave the euro as soon as it is politically feasible; “flat tax” for individuals and companies at 15 percent; repeal 2011 pension reform to allow earlier retirement; immigration crackdown by intercepting and sending back migrant boats and repatriating up to 100,000 illegal immigrants per year; toughen penalties for violent crime; improve relations with Russia.
Support slipping, around 13 percent.
Brothers of Italy, leader Giorgia Meloni (40).
Policies: Immigration crackdown by intercepting and sending back migrant boats and repatriating illegal immigrants; toughen penalties for violent crime; improve relations with Russia. Policies generally close to the Northern League’s but unlike the League, its support is based in central and southern Italy.
Support stable at around 5 percent.
Free and Equal, leader Piero Grasso (72)
Left-wing party formed this month to unite small movements which had left the PD in dissent with Renzi, who they said had moved it too far to the right.
Policies: Repeal 2014 labour reform to make firing harder; soften 2011 pension reform to end automatic increases in the retirement age on the basis of rising life expectancy, increase spending on education, health and public works; improve relations with Russia and fully recognise state of Palestine.
Support rising gradually, around 7 percent.
Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Alison Williams