DAVOS, Switzerland — Italy is not facing another political crisis, the country’s economy minister told CNBC just hours after a key government figure stepped back from his duties.
Luigi Di Maio has been leading the Five Star Movement (M5S), a party supportive of more social benefits in Italy, since late 2017. However, he said Wednesday he would be stepping down from the party’s leadership. Di Maio has also been serving as foreign affairs minister. His party entered a new coalition with the pro-European social democratic party, Partito Democratico (PD) in September and his resignation has raised concerns over the stability of this goverment.
Speaking to CNBC Wednesday, Roberto Gualtieri, the Italian minister for the economy and a member of PD, rejected such concerns.
“Not at all, it is not a political crisis, it is not affecting neither the government — by the way Mr Di Maio will remain foreign (affairs) minister — nor the majority, which is actually quite broad in the Parliament,” Gualtieri told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick in Davos.
The PD and M5S came together last year to avert the need for snap elections. At the time, the anti-immigration party leader, Matteo Salvini, who was co-deputy prime minister alongside Di Maio, decided to quit government — sparking further political instability.
“The commitment to the stability of the Italian government is very strong from the Five Star Movement,” Gualtieri said.
Upcoming regional elections in Italy are adding further pressure on the current government. Salvini, the face of anti-immigration politics in Italy, could be about to make some sort of comeback with an election in the northeast region of Emilia-Romagna on Sunday. The region has traditionally voted in favor of left-leaning parties, but opinion polls suggest that could change.
Speaking about the upcoming vote, Gualtieri said: “I hope and I’m confident that the progressive candidates will win.”
Nonetheless, he pointed out that it is a regional vote and he doesn’t expect it to impact the current leadership between M5S and the PD.