Friday 23 August 2019

Cracks show in Italy's coalition over 'bribe'

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Reuters
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Reuters

Crispian Balmer in Rome

Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement has piled pressure on its government partner to dump a junior minister under investigation for corruption, in a case that could pull the coalition apart.

Relations between 5-Star and the far-right League have grown increasingly fraught in the run-up to EU parliamentary elections on May 26, with the two parties acting more like bitter political enemies than cabinet allies.

Growing rivalry triggered an unprecedented spat between the interior and defence ministries at the weekend as tensions grew over junior transport minister Armando Siri, who is very close to League leader Matteo Salvini.

Mr Siri last month was put under investigation for allegedly accepting a bribe from a wind farm entrepreneur who has been linked to the Sicilian Mafia. Mr Siri has denied wrongdoing, but 5-Star has said he must resign for the good of the government.

However, the League, which has surged in the polls over the past year, has so far refused to back down, saying he has not been charged.

Irish Independent

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