Schism afoot? Italy’s ruling party

Leaders of Italy’s ruling Democratic Party (PD) will meet on Sunday to discuss Matteo Renzi’s plan to hold early elections.

Photo: Cosima Scavolini/Splash News/Corbis

Photo: Cosima Scavolini/Splash News/Corbis

Leaders of Italy’s ruling Democratic Party (PD) will meet on Sunday to discuss Matteo Renzi’s plan to hold early elections. But with severe internal divisions over the plan and future direction of the centre-left PD, a party split could be in the offing.

Renzi, the party’s leader, stood down as prime minister in December after a failed referendum. Now he wants to hold a party vote to reaffirm his leadership in preparation for a general election in late 2017.

But Mr Renzi’s plan faces stiff resistance from inside the PD. Another former PM, Massimo D’Alema, is leading the charge to stop Renzi from retaining leadership of the party and calling early elections. Mr D’Alema says Matteo Renzi’s leadership style is too high-handed and his policies are too friendly to big business. He’s threatened to form a rival political party with his cadres on the left wing of the PD if early elections are called.

A recent poll suggested that D’Alema’s exit would reduce the party’s support by around half, which would be disastrous for the PD and a boon for their nearest political rivals – the populist Five Star Movement.

Matteo Renzi will have to proceed with caution if he wants to reclaim Italy’s top job.

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