Four ministers resigned from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government on Monday, increasing the risk that his coalition will collapse and spark an early election.
The four – Europe Minister Andrea Ronchi, Deputy Economic Development Minister Adolfo Urso and two junior ministers – are supporters of the parliamentary Speaker Gianfranco Fini, a former ally of Berlusconi who is now a rival.
Fini’s Future and Freedom movement announced the pull-out in a statement.
“We propose a new government, a new majority, a new agenda for reform…. Berlusconi is holing himself up in his palace like in a bunker,” Urso said in an interview on the news channel SkyTg24 ahead of the announcement.
Fini left the premier’s party in July to form the Future and Freedom movement.
The resignations pile further pressure on Berlusconi, who has faced fresh revelations about his private life in recent weeks.
He may now struggle to gain parliamentary approval for his government’s new budget.
Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party controls the Senate, but he no longer has a majority in the lower house of parliament without the votes of his former coalition partner.