Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, who resigned nearly three years ago after suffered a sounding defeat in a referendum on a cabinet-backed constitutional reform, is leaving center-left Democratic Party to form a rival party.
Renzi announced his decision on Tuesday, and said the new party he set to form would be more centrist.
Italian media have reported that as many as 30 members of parliament could leave the Democratic Party to join Renzi's as-yet unnamed party.
At the age of 39, Renzi was Italy's youngest-ever prime minister when he took office as a reform-minded leader in early 2014. But his government collapsed nearly three years later, in late 2016, after it failed in a referendum on a cabinet-backed constitutional reform.
Renzi's move comes less than two weeks after the Democratic Party formed a new government together with the populist Five-Star Movement. Though Renzi said his new party would support the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, there is also a possibility that dividing support could weaken the Conte government.
Recent polls show that the Democratic Party is the second largest political party in Italy, behind the nationalist party, the League, which is in opposition. Pollster Tecne reported Tuesday that the League leads all parties with the support of 34 percent of the electorate, ahead of the Democratic Party, which has 22-percent support. But after Renzi's departure, the Democratic Party would probably drop to third behind the Five-Star Movement, which has support of 21 percent of voters.