Italy is plunged into a new political crisis following the sudden collapse of the ruling coalition government. Matteo Renzi, leader of the Italia Viva party, withdrew his support for the government on Wednesday and confirmed the resignation of two cabinet ministers.
This shocking decision deprived Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of a parliamentary majority.
Mr Renzi condemned the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis – following more than 80,000 Covid-19-related deaths – and targeted Mr Conte’s leadership.
The 56-year-old took over as leader in June 2018 and is now set to face a vote of no confidence, while other figures have called for a general election.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the Eurosceptic Lega Nord party, immediately called for an election.
The former Deputy Prime Minister targeted Mr. Conte, Mr. Renzi, Foreign Minister Luigi Maio and Democratic Party Secretary Nicola Zingaretti.
In a scathing message on Twitter, he claimed the Italian people were “held hostage” and stressed that democratic votes were to take place around the world later this year.
He writes: âConte, Renzi, Di Maio, Zingaretti. Endless quarrel, the Italians are taken hostage. Health, work, school, taxes. Everything stopped.
“So? January elections in Portugal. February, elections in Catalonia. March, elections in the Netherlands, Israel and Bulgaria. April, elections in Albania. May, elections in Scotland, Wales and Cyprus.
Meanwhile, sources close to Mr Conte say he wants to keep fighting and has no plans to quit.
A government official said: âConte wants to go to parliament and see if he can build an alternative majority there. “
To do so, it would need the support of around 25 parliamentarians in the 630-seat lower house and up to 18 in the 315-seat Senate.
(Additional report by Maria Ortega)