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By Crispian Balmer

Italy's conservative alliance in lockstep, ready to govern, says Meloni

FILE PHOTO: Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, speaks during a rally in Duomo square ahead of the Sept. 25 snap election, in Milan, Italy, September 11, 2022. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/

Italy's right-wing bloc will easily agree on major policy priorities despite recent disagreements if it wins this weekend's national election, the alliance's de facto leader, Giorgia Meloni, said on Tuesday.

Meloni's party, Brothers of Italy, is widely expected to top the polls on Sunday, making her the frontrunner to be Italy's next prime minister.

Opponents say her conservative alliance, which also includes Matteo Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, will struggle to stay united after divisions emerged during campaigning over energy and foreign policy.

But Meloni dismissed such concerns, telling state broadcaster RAI it had only taken two meetings for the bloc to agree on its shared manifesto.

"It is normal that in an election campaign each party within a coalition wants to point out its specificity," she said, adding: "Basically, on the big issues we all agree."

Amongst the major policies on which there was already a broad consensus were implementing tax cuts and preventing illegal immigration into Italy, Meloni said.

Speaking in a separate interview, League leader Salvini said he thought it would take one-and-a-half months for the next government to take office, adding that, if the right won, its first priority would be to lower the pension age.

A temporary measure allowing people to retire when they are 64 expires at the end of the year, with the pensionable age rising to 67 on Jan. 1. "This affects millions of Italians," Salvini told RAI radio.

Meloni declined to talk about the make-up of a future government, saying the respective party results on Sunday would influence how many ministries they might get in the cabinet.

Before a blackout on the publication of polls came into force 10 days ago, Brothers of Italy was seen taking up to 25% of the vote, the League around 12% and Forza Italia 8% - a dramatic turnaround on the previous parliamentary election when Meloni's party won 4.3%, the League 17.4% and Forza Italia 14%.

Political sources have suggested that Meloni might want to give technocrats key jobs, including the economy ministry, in any future cabinet to bolster the credibility of her team.

However, Salvini voiced his opposition to that on Tuesday.

"I do not see roles for technocrats," he said.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)

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