They have clashed over immigration, vaccinations and big infrastructure projects, but now the two parties in Italy’s fractious coalition have their claws out over wolves.
Sharply differing stances have emerged between the hard-Right League and the populist Five Star Movement over what to do about the country’s burgeoning wolf population.
Driven almost to extinction in Italy by the 1970s but then given protection, there are now around 2,000 wild wolves in Italy.
Around 1,500 live in the Apennine mountains that form the country’s spine and the rest in the Alps.
Hailed by conservationists as a success story, the wolves are loathed by many farmers, who say they kill their livestock.
There have been protests by landowners, especially in mountain areas, where the large expanses of land mean it is harder to protect flocks with electric fences.
Vanna Gavia, a member of The League and a junior environment minister, wants forestry rangers to be allowed to shoot wolves, at least with rubber bullets.
She says there is a need to protect “farms, alpine pastures and inhabited centres” from the predators, some of which are dangerous wolf-dog hybrids.
But she is sharply at odds with her boss Sergio Costa, the environment minister, who is close to the Five Star Movement and has flatly dismissed the idea.
He is happy with the status quo, which offers financial compensation to farmers who suffer wolf attacks on their livestock.
The row comes as two regions in Italy said it was time to allow the selective culling of wolves.
Trentino-South Tyrol, in the far north of the country, and Tuscany, in the centre, will petition the Italian government and the EU to allow the limited shooting of problem wolves.
The clash over wolves is just the latest issue to illustrate the uneasy alliance between the two parties, which have different agendas, policy priorities and support bases.
Five Star won many of its votes in the south in the March general election that brought the populists to power while the League, formerly known as the Northern League, has its stronghold in Italy’s prosperous north.
Differences have emerged between the two parties over two big infrastructure projects – a high-speed rail link with France and a gas pipeline in the southern region of Puglia.
The biggest issue the two parties have clashed over is migration, with some members of Five Star deeply uneasy over the inflammatory rhetoric used by Matteo Salvini, the interior minister, who is the head of The League.
They are also uncomfortable with his decision, taken within days of taking office in June, to close Italian ports to migrants and refugees rescued in the Mediterranean by NGO vessels.
While Mr Salvini intends to shut down unauthorised migration entirely, some of his coalition partners take a far more sympathetic view.
Roberto Fico, a leading member of Five Star, this week called for migrants and refugees to be given legal channels to move to Europe.
“Immigration that is controlled and sustainable, as happens in countries like Canada, can bring benefits for everyone,” said Mr Fico, who is speaker of the lower house of parliament.
“The League knows our history and we know theirs. We remain very distinct forces and we won’t run together in the European elections (in May 2019).”
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