Government ministers in former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s political party have announced their intention to resign their posts, a move that raises tension in the uneasy coalition government and increases the possibility of early elections.
Vice Premier Angelino Alfano’s spokeswoman said the five ministers from Mr Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom Party have decided to submit their resignations.
The centre-right is in an unusual alliance of rival forces with the centre-left Democratic Party, which has been on tenterhooks since Italy’s high court confirmed Mr Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction this summer.
Saturday’s announcement came hours after Mr Berlusconi urged ministers in his party to step down, citing the government’s decision to raise Italy’s value added tax.
Tensions also are swirling around a Senate committee vote next week on whether to revoke Mr Berlusconi’s legislative seat.