Attempt to create a rightwing political force may mean the end of partnership with Brothers of Italy

Salvini’s League and other parties including the centre-left Democratic party and populist Five Star Movement that make up Italy’s broad ruling coalition have been left in disarray after failing to agree on a mutually acceptable candidate for head of state in last week’s presidential election, culminating with Sergio Mattarella, 80, being elected for a second term against his earlier expressed wishes.

His call was made in Il Giornale, the Silvio Berlusconi-owned newspaper, as he scrambles for survival under pressure from those within his own ranks over the presidential election debacle. He wrote that the rightwing parties that support Mario Draghi’s government could create a force modelled “on that of the American Republican party” and will reportedly meet Berlusconi, the Forza Italia leader, to discuss the proposal.

Salvini’s ultimate endorsement of Mattarella for president infuriated Meloni, the leader of Brothers of Italy, which allies with the League and Forza Italia in elections but unlike them stayed out of Draghi’s government. She accused them of “betrayal” for their behind-the-scenes dealings with their coalition partners.

Her party has steadily grown to overtake the League in opinion polls since the formation of Draghi’s government a year ago.

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