Italy’s Northern League party is considering breaking from the ruling coalition in coming elections after one of its leaders was forced to resign over a scandal linked to the Prophet Mohammad cartoons. Former Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli had appeared on television wearing a T-Shirt with the images on it.
Leaders of the anti-immigration party are meeting today to discuss possibly standing alone in April’s general election. Polls suggest it could win enough votes to wield influence in parliament after the election. Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini said it was no coincidence the League was discussing such a move so close to the election. He accused the party of trying to make political gains out of the Calderoli affair.
The incident fuelled Muslim anger over the cartoons. The Italian consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi was attacked at the weekend during violent protests in which 11 people are reported to have died. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi condemned Calderoli but the scandal has embarrassed his centre-right coalition in the run-up to the vote. His bloc is trailing the leftist opposition in polls but has been gaining ground recently.