Berlusconi on back foot as Italy crisis rages
By Dario Thuburn, AFPROME--Once loyal supporters of Italy's Silvio Berlusconi spoke out against him as Prime Minister Enrico Letta worked on Tuesday to shore up support on the eve of a crucial confidence vote in parliament.
October 2, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
“Making the government fall would be a mistake,” Fabrizio Cicchitto, a senior member of parliament from Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party, was quoted as saying by the La Repubblica daily.
Cicchitto said any new government formed would be “hostile to the PDL” and would be a boon for Letta's center-left Democratic Party, while elections in November would be “impractical.”
The 77-year-old Berlusconi on Saturday announced he was withdrawing his party's five ministers from the fragile coalition presided by Letta, who said it was a “crazy and irresponsible” act.
One of the five, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is also national secretary of Berlusconi's party, held tense closed-door talks with Berlusconi on Monday, Italian media reported.
He mentioned the possibility of breaking from the party and establishing a new independent group of former Berlusconi lawmakers in parliament that would work together with Letta, the reports said.
Alfano has already said he could be “pro-Berlusconi in a different way” and other ministers have spoken out against the decision to make them resign, apparently taken without consulting them.
Media reports spoke of a possible 20 senators willing to break with Berlusconi, which would give Letta a majority in Wednesday's confidence vote even without the bulk of Berlusconi lawmakers.
Investors meanwhile appeared increasingly confident that Letta's government would not fall, with stock markets rebounding by 0.94 percent on Tuesday after closing 1.2-percent lower on Monday.
Italy's borrowing costs on 10-year-government bonds however rose to 4.580 percent from 4.431 percent on Monday after analysts warned that Italy's fiscal targets for the year could be at risk.
“After five months, Prime Minister Letta's uneasy coalition between center-left and center-right is threatening to fall apart,” Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg bank, said in a note.
“Political paralysis in Rome could potentially cause a new wave of euro crisis,” he said, adding however that this would be “a modest hiccup, and not a new full-blown crisis across the eurozone.”