An Italian centre-left alliance has broken down less than a week after coming together, potentially handing victory to a coalition that includes two far-right parties as the country prepares for general elections in September.
Carlo Calenda, the leader of Azione, a small centrist force that was seen as crucial to giving clout to an alliance led by the centre-left Democratic party (PD), withdrew his support on Sunday after the leader of the PD, Enrico Letta, signed a separate electoral agreement with parties including the radical leftwing group Sinistra Italiana, and Europa Verde, a green party launched last year.
“I made an agreement with Letta on the idea that an alternative Italy is possible,” Calenda said during an interview on Rai Tre. “Now I find myself alongside people who voted no confidence in [the prime minister] Mario Draghi 54 times … This coalition was made to lose. The choice was made by the Democratic party. I cannot go where my conscience doesn’t take me.”
An alliance led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, a party with neofascist roots, and including Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, is currently poised to win a clear majority in the ballot on September 25th.
The PD is neck and neck with Brothers of Italy in the latest opinion polls, but even in partnership with Azione, the group’s most recent polling stood at 33.6 per cent, compared with 46.4 per cent for its rightwing opponents.
“Unless there’s a miracle, the left cannot win … The right has the election in its pocket,” said Roberto D’Alimonte, a politics professor at Rome’s Luiss University.
Letta and Calenda had pledged to form a government based on a “Draghi agenda”, essentially continuing a programme of reforms initiated by the former European Central Bank chief’s administration, which collapsed last month.
Calenda was irked by Letta’s electoral agreement on Saturday with Nicola Fratoianni, the leader of Sinistra Italiana, and Angelo Bonelli, who leads Europa Verde.
“These are people who never voted in favour of Draghi,” said D’Alimonte. “And last week they voted against Sweden and Finland joining Nato. So that was exactly the opposite of what Calenda and the PD stands for. How could such a coalition close the gap with the right if it is so ambiguous and contradictory?”
The political parties have seven more days to present their alliances before a deadline expires. Asked what options remain for the left wing, D’Alimonte said: “They can take a holiday.”
Meloni, who may become Italy’s first female prime minister, mocked the rift on the left, saying Calenda’s exit marked “a new twist in the soap opera”. - Guardian