Alexa

Berlusconi tries to hang on to power

Fini puts an end to PM’s parliamentary majority by creating splinter group in July

Berlusconi tries to hang on to power

Caught between a rebel faction that deprived him of a parliamentary majority and a key ally pushing for early elections, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is weighing his options to stay in power.
Italy has been in political turmoil since Gianfranco Fini, the lower house speaker and a long-time ally of Berlusconi turned foe, put an end to the prime minister’s once-comfortable parliamentary majority by creating a splinter group in July.
Berlusconi has pledged to “go ahead without worrying,” since “there are the numbers” to govern after Fini’s departure, but political maneuvering was under way as the prime minister played for time ahead of a showdown set for later this month.
Berlusconi has given himself “a few days” to see whether he actually has a majority in parliament, said on Thursday Ignazio La Russa, defense minister and one of the coordinators of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party.
The populist Northern League party, Berlusconi’s main ally, has been aggressively pushing for elections, saying governing is impossible without a loyal and solid majority.
Berlusconi is “interested in going to the polls to do away with Fini and supporters,” but he fears that elections might weaken the PDL and strengthen the Northern League, Marco Tarchi, political science professor at the University of Florence, told reporter.
Polls currently say the Northern League would win about 11 percent of votes in an election, against the eight percent it won at 2008’s elections.
On top of that, Berlusconi “fears he might be identified as the sole responsible for early elections” at a time in which Italy needs political and economic stability, Tarchi said.
Over the past few days, Berlusconi has been courting small independent groups in Parliament and by promising aid to the impoverished south he could draw into his majority up to 13 lawmakers representing southern regions.
According to Italian media, Berlusconi can currently count on 307 votes in the lower house, nine less than what he needs to obtain an absolute majority of 316.
Berlusconi has said he would address the lower house in the last week of September and face a confidence vote on his five-point program for the rest of the term.
The vote will be the final test of whether the government has a majority.
The program will include tax reforms, federalism, aid to the poorer south of Italy and new measures to curb crime and illegal immigration.
Fini, who also does not want to be blamed for a possible fall of the government, says he would vote for the program and that he wants to find an accord for this government to carry on until the end of its term in 2013.
But Fini wants to influence each vote, especially those on legislation that would help Berlusconi avoid prosecution on corruption and tax fraud charges, according to Tarchi.
“No one knows what will happen in October when the center-right will bring to Parliament bills” such as one on corruption, on citizenship for foreign-borns or on federalism, said Tarchi.
Fini and Berlusconi have been at odds since a public spat in April and “a reconciliation has now become impossible,” Tarchi said.
The Northern League, on the other hand, fears a long trench warfare in Parliament and announced on Thursday that it might abstain from the confidence vote, dooming the government to fall.
“The (Northern) League’s move could be simply a way to send a propaganda message to its electoral base,” said Stefano Folli, a political analyst writing for Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.


Updated : 2021-04-16 02:39 GMT+08:00