An Alpine rail link and a legal case involving Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini are stirring controversy. And tension is mounting between Italy’s allies the far-right League and the populist Five Star Movement.

The parties disagree over whether to proceed with a $10bn high-speed rail project, backed by Salvini’s pro-business, League, and whether the Rome Senate should allow an investigation into his refusal to let the Diciotti migrant ship dock at an Italian port last summer.

As reported by Bloomberg, Salvini said any plan by Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio’s anti-establishment Five Star to allow the Diciotti case to go ahead would be “blackmail.” This is according to remarks cited by newspaper la Repubblica on February 4. Asked if Five Star wanted early elections, Salvini said, “I’m not afraid, they will take all the responsibility for it,” according to Repubblica.

Meanwhile, elections for the European Parliament in late May are widely seen as a watershed for the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as Salvini’s League is expected to score strongly. Salvini could try to force a government reshuffle, with more ministerial jobs for the League, or early elections, after the European vote, reported Bloomberg.

Asked on February 4 whether the government could collapse, the Five Star leader said: “The government is not in doubt”.

“We always manage to keep going with this government, because we’re reasonable people and we know that if this government fails, the ones who were in power before will come back.”