M5S 'Estates-General' March 13-15

Di Maio's leadership under pressure after defections

(ANSA) - Rome, January 10 - The ruling anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) will hold its 'Estates-General' on the future of the party and its leadership on March 13-15, its 'Future Team' said Friday.
    The populist party has been roiled by defections to other caucuses and the leadership of Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has been called into question.
    An M5S heavyweight, Manlio Di Stefano, voiced support for Di Maio on Friday.
    "Hypocrisy is an evil but the lack of recognition is worse," he said.
    "I've been fighting for the M5S since the start and I recognise the faces of those who at my side have grown this project, including Luigi Di Maio".
    The media have speculated that Di Maio could come under pressure to resign.
    They say he may be replaced by unofficial No.2 Alessandro Di Battista.
    Either that, or the party may return to being run by a three-person directorate, the Italian media have said.
    The M5S have recently had some disappointing local election results and their polling rating has dropped to less than half what they gained in the 2018 general election, when they became Italy's top party with 33% of the vote.
    They are currently in government with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), after nationalist League leader and former interior minister Matteo Salvini pulled the plug on a 14-month M5S-League administration in August.
    The government is set for a "verification" of the state of the M5S-PD alliance with two smaller parties after recent bickering over policies including the 2020 budget and a statute of limitations reform.