The conflicts within Italy’s litigious coalition have reached a new peak, with former premier Matteo Renzi openly threatening Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to pull the plug on his fragile government alliance over a row on a controversial judicial reform.
Mr Renzi’s move prompted Mr Conte to meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Saturday morning, in the attempt to reassure Italy’s head of state that his cabinet would have a wide-enough majority in parliament to survive even if Mr Renzi’s small party Italia Viva decides to withdraw its support.
In case of a government crisis, Mr Mattarella would have to dissolve parliament and call for new elections, most likely in September, at a time when the country is facing zero growth and the prospect of a new recession.
Italy Alive– the tiny centrist group Mr Renzi founded after splitting from the center-left Democratic Party (PD) – currently hovers around four per cent in polls. However, the backing of its lawmakers remains crucial for the survival of Mr Conte’s government, particularly in the Senate, where the ruling majority is razor-thin.
Conte denied on Sunday he was looking to put together a new coalition after relations with the small Italia Viva party disintegrated. His office denied widespread media reports that he was looking for other majorities and played a conciliatory tone.
“Conte is working on the government’s 2023 agenda along with all the ruling parties, including Italia Viva,” Conte’s office said in a statement released on Sunday.
The latest controversy was sparked by a long-discussed judicial reform, drafted by Five-Star Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, which changes the statute of limitations’ rules to avoid that Italy’s notoriously long trials run out of time before they reach a final sentence.
Mr Renzi — who opposes the reform claiming it is unconstitutional — asked his ministers to boycott the cabinet meeting that approved the draft bill on Thursday night and openly challenged Mr Conte to try to forge a new majority without Italia Viva if he wants to move forward with the reform.