Brussels (Brussels Morning) Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pulled his centrist Italia Viva (IV) party out of the current government on Wednesday, triggering a political crisis as the ruling coalition will no longer control the majority in the nation’s legislative bodies, ANSA reported.
Renzi blamed his withdrawal from the government on “irreconcilable differences” with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte over how best to spend the money slated to arrive from European Union crisis relief funds. Following his announcement on Wednesday, all IV government ministers have resigned as well.
Second Conte government
Conte, a non-partisan lawyer, was invited to become Prime Minister in 2018 as a compromise, after the anti-establishment 5-Star party won a relative majority in the national elections and formed a government with Matteo Salvini’s far-right League.
As 5-Star began losing popularity and League rose in the polls, Salvini quit the government in 2019, hoping to force early elections, but Renzi, then leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), managed to form a new coalition with 5-Star, which insisted Conte remain PM. After Renzi lost leadership of PD, he formed a new party – IV – with a number of former PD colleagues, but remained in the coalition.
Elections favour right-wing bloc
Even though Renzi’s party currently has enough deputies to play kingmaker for the centre-left coalition, IV is polling at about 3% nationally, making it possible it might not even pass the electoral threshold in the event of early elections.
Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella, in his constitutional role as an arbiter, will likely attempt to preserve the current government given the seriousness of the health crisis Italy currently faces.. Failing that, Mattarella will probably try to negotiate the formation of a government of national unity, calling early elections only if all other options fail.
Analysts note that a new coalition pact with IV would probably mean a major cabinet reshuffle, and Conte might even be replaced as the Prime Minister. Early elections, on the other hand, would favour the right-wing bloc led by Salvini’s League, which is polling at around 46% with the right-wing Brothers of Italy party and populist Forza Italia party.