By Giada Zampano
ROME (AA) - In a surprise move on Thursday, Lazio Governor Nicola Zingaretti announced that he was quitting as leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), blaming a "never-ending stream" of criticism and divisions within the party.
"Given that I'm the target, for the love of Italy and the party, I am left with no other choice than making the final decision to unblock this situation," he said in a Facebook post, adding that he would soon write to the party’s chairman to formally resign.
"I'm ashamed that in the PD, which I lead, they've only been talking about candidacies and primaries for the past 20 days," he said. “The PD cannot stand still, getting bogged out by a daily guerrilla. This would indeed kill the party.”
Under Zingaretti, the PD has been one of the main supporters of the new government headed by Mario Draghi, being one of the key ruling partners.
Zingaretti’s resignation could deal another blow to the fragmented government majority, which is already split on main policies.
In recent weeks, Zingaretti has been the target of repeated attacks from the party, with many blaming his leadership for a recent PD’s fall in polls.
The party, which was also part of the ruling coalition headed by former premier Giuseppe Conte, has quickly rallied behind Draghi and his national-unity Cabinet, which was called in to rescue Italy from an unprecedented sanitary and economic crisis.
The country is struggling to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections, fueled by new variants of the virus.
A new phase of political uncertainty for the second-largest ruling party would make things harder for a government that needs to act quickly, or face growing pressure from citizens and businesses hit hard by the pandemic.