Italy’s hard-Right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, suffered a rare setback on Monday when his TV presenter girlfriend announced she was breaking up with him on Instagram.
Elisa Isoardi, a former model who hosts the Italian version of Ready Steady Cook, announced the end of their three-year relationship with a photograph of the couple in happier times, lying on a bed together.
The picture showed Ms Isoardi, dressed in a fluffy white dressing gown, smiling at the camera while a bare-chested Mr Salvini nuzzled her neck.
“It’s not what we have given each other that I will miss but what we still had to give each other,” Ms Isoardi wrote, citing a contemporary Italian poet. “With immense respect for the true love that there was, thank you Matteo.”
The announcement was made just as Mr Salvini was travelling to Ghana to discuss migration and how to prevent West Africans from trying to reach Europe via Libya.
Her decision to go public with the break-up was criticised as crass by some Italians on social media.
“Does it seem normal to you that this person publishes a selfie to announce on social media the end of her relationship with a government minister? Our institutions have lost everything – values, principles and now dignity,” wrote one woman on Twitter.
On Instagram, a woman commented: “Salvini is a minister. You could have avoided posting the photograph.”
“As Italy weeps for the victims of the bad weather, Ms Isoardi displays Salvini half-naked in bed in a hotel. He’s not a contestant in Temptation Island – he’s the interior minister,” said Alessia Morani, an MP with the centre-Left opposition Democratic Party.
Mr Salvini is an enthusiastic fan of social media, using Facebook and Twitter to announce policies, criticise opponents and garner support.
He has more than 900,000 followers on Twitter and 3.3 million followers on Facebook.
Since coming to power in June as a leading member of the populist coalition, Mr Salvini has been on a roll with his attacks on multiculturalism, crackdown on migrant rescue boats in the Mediterranean and nativist “Italians First” slogan.
He has managed to double national support for his party, the anti-immigration League, from 17% to 34%.
A poll published at the weekend that The League is poaching votes from its coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, particularly in northern Italy.