Italy’s ex-PM Renzi causes political chaos pulling ministers out of government

Matteo Renzi

Italian ex-premier and centrist Italia Viva (IV) leader Matteo Renzi on Wednesday opened a government crisis by announcing that party’s two ministers were quitting PM Giuseppe Conte's administration, ANSA reported.

Renzi repeatedly threatened to pull IV out of the government over alleged flaws in the €222.9bn Recovery Plan. He said that it had been "irresponsible" to rule out using a further €37bn from the European Stability Mechanism.

However, Renzi ruled out a snap election, saying the next election would take place at the end of the parliamentary term in 2023.

Political observers say Conte may resign, there may be a new Conte-led government or merely a reshuffle, or a snap election where the right-wing opposition is favoured. Opinion polls have consistently shown that any quick return to the ballot box would reward centre-right forces, including the right-wing League of Matteo Salvini and the nationalist Brothers of Italy.

Conte's main partners in the current 16-month-old government are the populist 5-Star Movement and the centre-left Democratic party. This coalition had replaced another also headed by lawyer Conte that included Salvini's Eurosceptic party and the 5-Stars.

Some observers said that Mattarella could seek out a non-political figure to lead a government. Two names have been touted by political commentators: Mario Draghi, the former ECB chief, and Marta Cartabia, who formerly headed Italy's constitutional court.

Renzi became Italian premier in 2014 but he lost a political gamble two years later when he staked his premiership on a constitutional referendum that failed, forcing him to resign. He later broke with his fellow Democrats and formed the Italia Viva party, which, while small, has enough support in the Senate to make his voice count in the government.

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