Berlusconi criticism prompts PDL walkout and election fears
Silvio Berlusconi’s party withdrew its support for Prime Minister Mario Monti yesterday, raising the risk of a snap election in Italy, but President Giorgio Napolitano said he would work to avoid a crisis and there was no need for alarm.
The centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party walked out of a Senate confidence vote on a package of economic measures and abstained in a separate confidence vote in the lower house following criticism of Berlusconi by a senior minister.
Monti’s government survived comfortably but the risk it could fall remained as tensions rose between the parties that have backed the technocrat government over the last year. Napolitano, who makes the final decision on whether to call an election, said there was no need for alarm on international markets and Italy’s institutions were strong.
“There are pre-electoral political tensions that even outside Italy can be understood without creating alarm about the institutional strength of the country,” Napolitano said.
PDL secretary Angelino Alfano said the party had not wanted to bring the government down yesterday but would decide over the next few days whether to do so.
“If we had wanted to make it fall, we would have already today given a vote of no confidence,” he said.
If the government does fall, an election would be called only a few weeks earlier than the expectedMarch date, but that would upset investors nervous about what will follow Monti. – (Reuters)