Fresh splits appear in Italian government as leaders clash over Venezuela | World | News



Britain, Germany, France and Spain formed a united front to call for fresh elections in the strife-torn South American country after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim leader and accused President Nicolas Maduro of winning a fraudulent vote last year. But Rome was notable by its absence on the list of European nations calling for a rerun as it emerged the populist coalition could not agree on its position regarding Venezuela.

Deputy Prime Minister and 5Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio refused to give the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister permission to sign a joint statement despite pressure from both to sign it “to avoid further isolation in Europe.”

Fellow Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s League party, contradicted Mr Di Maio’s position by effectively backing the approach put forward by London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid.

He said: “I hope the Italian government will let go of this prudent approach and support the Venezuelan people and their right to new elections and democracy.”

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte appeared to hedge his bets and eventually declared himself as being on the side of “the Venezuelan people”.

The failure to see eye to eye over the situation in Caracas comes as just the latest in a growing serious of splits within the Italian government which is also tearing itself apart over the vastly different environmental views of its coalition partners.

The 5Star Movement campaigned last against a raft of major infrastructure projects and in doing so won the support of many influential grassroots organisations which helped it come first in March’s general elections.

But its partner, the far-right League, is much less averse to oil, gas and rail projects and so far has been winning internal arguments to get then approved.

The latest standoff is over a controversial high-speed rail link to France called TAV.

Mr Di Maio said the controversial Turin-Lyon link should be scrapped if a new cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the government is negative while Mr Salvini backs the project and has suggested holding a referendum if the new analysis gives it the thumbs down.

Mr Di Maio said: “The TAV has been put to an analysis that will be published and if the experts and the scientists tell us that we are throwing away money, only a madman would keep going.”


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