Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of Italy’s lower house of parliament, has called on Silvio Berlusconi to resign as prime minister and begin talks on forming a new centre-right government.
It is the latest barb in an increasingly bitter war of words between the former allies.
Addressing his new Future and Freedom party, Fini said: “The government is currently floating in the face of emergencies. It has lost its direction, the project that should be essential to build tomorrow’s Italy today.”
The government’s collapse is only a matter of time according to some sections of the press, given the public slanging match between the former partners.
Fini says he will support a Berlusconi-led government, but only if the prime minister agrees to certain conditions.
One minister, one deputy minister and two under-secretaries are members of Fini’s party.
The future of Berlusconi’s government has been in the balance since July when he effectively expelled Fini from the People of Freedom party they created together in 2008 as a new force to unite the centre-right.
The split left Berlusconi without a secure parliamentary majority after Fini took more than 40 lower house deputies and senators with him.