An Italian radio journalist has predicted that right-wing leader Matteo Salvini will commit suicide, local media reported Saturday, with media network RAI opening an investigation into the incident involving a Facebook post by Fabio Sanfilippo, which has since been removed.
"You've hanged yourself, you're going to lose 20-25 percent of your support, you know that? What are you going to do? You have no work, you do not know how to do anything, you do not have a deputy seat, you lost the minister post," La Repubblica newspaper quoted Sanfilippo as having said on Facebook on Saturday.
"It is true you are in Parliament (Salvini is now a senator) but with the life that you are used to leading, in six months you will shoot yourself, my enemy. I am sorry for your daughter but she will recover in time," Sanfilippo was quoted as saying.
Sanfilippo posted the comments after Salvini, leader of the right-wing League, pulled his party out of a government coalition with the Five-Star Movement in August, exacerbating the political turmoil in the country.
The centre-left Democratic Party (PD), Salvini's political rival, which replaced the League in a new coalition government, came out in support of him.
"These attacks against Salvini are serious and unacceptable," said Michele Anzaldi, a PD member of the National Assembly.
Matteo Renzi, former head of the left-wing Italian government, said: "A limit of decency and human respect should have been respected by this RAI journalist."
The journalist attempted to fend off the attacks on Saturday morning, telling local media: "I would write this message again but without mentioning the girl and by better specifying the reference to suicide by the leader of the League."
This reference "is not an invitation to shoot oneself but a statement that he has eliminated himself politically," Sanfilippo added, claiming the League's “media machine seized upon my words to use them for its own purposes.”
Italy’s new government was sworn in on 5 September after the PD joined the anti-establishment Five Star Movement in an unlikely alliance.
Giuseppe Conte, the independent prime minister, led his new team of seven women and 14 men in a swearing-in ceremony in the presidential palace.
The political crisis in Rome was ignited last month when the League, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, pulled out of a previous 14-month-long coalition in an attempt to force snap elections, with Salvini hoping to take on the role of premier.
The government will now need to win confidence motions in both the lower and upper houses of parliament before it can become fully operational, with Conte expected to win both votes, which are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.