They may have been all smiles back in April, but underneath lay an uneasy coalition, and one which is now on the brink of unravelling. Ministers of Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right PSL party are to resign from the Italian government.
It comes in response to Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s request for a confidence vote next week, if fiscal measures were not agreed. It also makes good on a promise to resign after Berlusconi’s Senate seat was threatened following a conviction for tax fraud.
Letta’s ultimatum came on Friday after the cabinet failed to agree on measures to bring the budget deficit in line with EU limits. It appears the centre-right pre-empted Letta’s resignation citing the tax hike as the reason, which did not go down well with their centre-left PD coalition partners.
“If you announce the resignation of your ministers, you announce that the government can’t go on, and then you complain that the government doesn’t respect the engagements of the program that you then derail with your behaviour… You’ve lost touch with reality. If you want the government to respect its engagements, you have to support the government,” said PD leader Guglielmo Epifani.
The announcement could lead to snap elections, or force Letta to look for friends elsewhere, though the opposition parties are unlikely allies.
“If something must be done, for the good of the country, it should be to call new elections immediately instead of discussing a new Letta government or new alliances with these people,” said Riccardo Nuti from the 5-Star Movement.
The resignations will further destabilise the country struggling with a two-year recession, a two trillion euro debt and 40 percent youth unemployment. It could also have repercussions for the rest of the eurozone.