Italy's centre-left alliance collapses ahead of elections

Calenda quits pact with Partito Democratico in shock move.

Carlo Calenda, leader of Italy's small centrist Azione party, on Sunday quit a centre-left alliance with the Partito Democratico (PD) just days after the parties joined forces ahead of general elections on 25 September.

Calenda announced the "painful decision" live on Italian television, citing among his reasons a new electoral pact between the PD and the left-wing parties Sinistra Italiana and Europa Verde which voted regularly against the national unity government of outgoing premier Mario Draghi.

The departure of Azione was slammed by the PD leader Enrico Letta who wrote on Twitter: "It seems to me that from everything he said the only possible ally for Calenda is Calenda. We are moving forward in the interest of Italy."

Letta is the architect behind the broad centre-left front designed to challenge a conservative alliance, which is poised to win the election next month and which celebrated the split between Azione and the PD.

The 'centrodestra' coalition comprises the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) party of Giorgia Meloni, the right-wing Lega led by Matteo Salvini, and the centre-right Forza Italia party of Silvio Berlusconi.

"On the left chaos and everyone against everyone!" tweeted a jubilant Salvini on Sunday, while Meloni mocked a "new twist in the soap opera of the centre-left."

The snap election was called following the resignation of Draghi, who has stayed on in a caretaker role, after three coalition parties withdrew their support from his administration.

The Lega and Forza Italia were among the parties that voted not to back Draghi. The third was the populist MoVimento 5 Stelle (M5S), led by former premier Giuseppe Conte, whose party triggered the government collapse after snubbing an earlier vote of confidence.

Analysts predict that the centre-left split could hand the right-wing bloc a landslide victory in next month's elections.

Photo Il Riformista