Five Star Movement Members Threaten to Collapse Italian Government

Italy's premier-designate Giuseppe Conte reacts as he starts to read the list of his new cabinet after a meeting with Italian President, at the Rome's Quirinale Presidential palace on September 4, 2019. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Discontented members of the Five Star Movement (M5S) have threatened to pull the plug on the leftist coalition government over their resort to the use of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

The M5S members have opposed the prospective deal reached by European Union (EU) member states to aid Italy amid the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, which has done massive damage to Italy.

M5S Senator Mario Michele Giarrusso announced his opposition to using the ESM, an EU bailout fund that provides assistance in the form of loans, with EU finance ministers reaching a deal this week to make €240 billion available to combat coronavirus.

“I am saying this clearly: if the government has said yes to the ESM, this majority will no longer have my vote,” Giarrusso said.

He added that he expected other M5S representatives to vote with him or the entire movement could face “a radical re-foundation”, Il Giornale reports.

“If Conte does not keep his word, the M5S will have to pull the plug on this government. Without ifs and without buts!” Giarrusso said.

Interim leader of the M5S Vito Crimi, who took over after former leader Luigi di Maio resigned in January, tried to bring calm to the situation, saying that the ESM has not been activated and that he and Conte supported the idea of Eurobonds instead.

Eurobonds, which would underwrite the debt of countries like Italy and Spain, have been rejected by richer EU countries like Germany and the Netherlands.

The lack of solidarity over the Eurobonds has led several economists to predict that the coronavirus outbreak could spell the end of the EU.

“If I were Italian and if I saw that other countries are not willing to help Italy, I would question membership in the Union,” Belgian economist Professor Paul De Grauwe said.

Previously, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte had vowed not to use the ESM, a programme criticised by Senator Matteo Salvini of the national populist Lega party as handing away Italian national sovereignty in December.

A collapse of the Italian government would likely see Salvini’s League emerge as the largest party in Italy, with the party having dominated the polls for months.

A Friday poll showed the League with 26.9 per cent of support, followed by the leftist Democrats (PD) at 22.1 per cent.

The centre-right coalition of Salvini and his allies poll at 46 per cent in total, compared to just 36.7 per cent for the current governing coalition.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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