ITALY'S tiny Republican Party refused Monday to back Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti's new coalition in Parliament, threatening the survival of the government sworn in April 13. Mr. Andreotti formed his government counting on Republican support, even though the party pulled out of the Cabinet at the last minute on April 13.
Republican Party leader Giorgio La Malfa told reporters the leadership voted 40 to 5 not to endorse Italy's 50th postwar government when it is presented to parliament April 17.
"We can't vote to endorse the Andreotti government. As for voting against, we'll see about that later," said Mr. La Malfa.
The Republicans plucked their three ministers from the coalition just before they were due to be sworn in, forcing Andreotti to take over their portfolios.
The political storm will require Andreotti to delay his government's presentation to parliament, which originally had been scheduled for the afternoon of April 16.
The new government was shaped by Andreotti as a five-party coalition, and he was counting on Republican ministers taking up their posts after an April 15 meeting.
The Republicans pulled out because of what they felt was a slight by Andreotti. La Malfa accused him of breaking a promise that the party would keep the three posts it held in his outgoing government.
The only decision taken by the government so far has been to declare a national emergency Saturday over an oil spill from a sunken supertanker in the Bay of Genoa.
Experts battling to prevent a million barrels of crude oil leaking from the supertanker from spilling onto Mediterranean beaches said they were cautiously optimistic after the first close-up examination of the wreck.
"I have seen the pictures and they are very clear. The discharge is incredibly small, infinitesimal. It's like a dripping tap," said Adm. Antonio Alati, Genoa harbor master, on April 15.