“It is not the League which has changed its mind; it is someone else who has lately shifted their support towards Renzi and the Democratic Party,” Salvini said during a meeting in Puglia.

“But now, Berlusconi has to choose between the League of the future and the Renzi of the past.”

In recent months the League has slowly dried out Forza Italia’s votes, and rumours over a shift of local Forza Italia members towards the League have spread quickly. As a result, Salvini has decided to change his strategy and speed up his conquest of the centre-right electorate.

But Berlusconi is not willing to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen. During a recent interview in the newspaper Libero, he denied that his party is doomed.

“Forza Italia is in very good health and rumours that people are leaving the party are false,” he said.

“On the contrary, we are experiencing an increase in memberships in local councils, in both the north and the south.”

Addressing Salvini directly, Berlusconi then denied that his intention was to form an alliance with the Democratic Party and invited the League leader to keep their coalition alive.

“Our wish is that the differences within the yellow-green government will end quickly and that Matteo Salvini will be part of the centre-right coalition again both nationally and locally,” he said.

But Salvini’s answer was not what Berlusconi expected. He confirmed the League’s intention to run alone in Abruzzo and reassured the Forza Italia leader that his government would continue to for a long time. It seems that the centre-right coalition has come to an end once and for all.