Four Italian ministries may now be heading north, decentralised to Milan and Monza on the demand of Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition partner the Northern League.
Leader Umberto Bossi is putting the heat on Berlusconi as he knows the prime minister needs his support more than ever after setbacks in local elections and referendum defeats.
“It’s about more than just getting ministries out of Rome, there’s also a lot to do for the economy,” he said.
A journalist then asked him if there was more behind this: “Will this government go to the end of its term in office?”
“Ahh, that’s not a very nice question,” was Bossi’s evasive reply.
Rome’s regional assembly rejected the proposals out of hand, calling them an “arrogant affrontery”, but Bossi’s demands are unlikely to stop with the ministries.
He is known to want lower taxes for families and the middle class, and early elections to take advantage of the Northern League’s new popularity. It means difficult decisions for Silvio Berlusconi if he wants to stay in power.