Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018

Monti govt in peril after Berlusconi party snubs votes


(see related stories)
Rome, December 6 - Premier Mario Monti's government
appeared to be in danger of collapsing on Thursday when Silvio
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party withdrew its support
for two confidence votes in parliament.
The PdL deserted a vote in the Senate on a government
economic-development bill and said later in the day that it
would abstain in another vote in the House on measures to reduce
the costs of Italy's local and national political system.
The move did not automatically bring down Monti's emergency
administration of unelected technocrats as the PdL, the biggest
party in government, did not actively vote against it in the
confidence motions.
But it was seen as a sign that the PdL may be poised to
pull the plug on the year-old administration to provoke early
elections in which Berlusconi would stand for a fourth term as
Italian premier.
The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) said Monti must
consult with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano as his
government had effectively lost its majority.
"If the government no longer has a majority, I think Monti
should go to (see Napolitano at) the Quirinal Palace," said Anna
Finocchiaro, the PD's Senate whip.
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani admitted that the government,
which his party and the PdL have kept afloat in parliament, is
in a perilous position.
"We'll have to see if it is an abstention from a vote or a
(definitive) political abstention," said Bersani, who will be
the centre-left's premier candidate at upcoming elections after
winning a primary last weekend.
"I'll get an outline of the situation with the whips and
this evening I'll know whether there is a majority or not".
Berlusconi said he would retire from front-line politics
after being forced to resign from the helm of government to make
way for Monti's administration last year, when Italy's debt
crisis threatened to spiral out of control.
But the 76-year-old media magnate has changed his mind
several times in recent months over whether to return, with his
centre-right PdL party struggling in the opinion polls and
ravaged by internal divisions.
Berlusconi said he was "besieged by requests from the party
to announce as soon as possible my return to politics to guide
the PdL" after a meeting with PdL top brass on Wednesday.
Bersani said the actions of Berlusconi's party risked
destabilising the country, which was expected to go to the polls
in March.
"The PdL has transferred the confusion inside itself to
cause system confusion which is endangering the country's
reliability," he said.
The spread between 10-year Italian bonds and the German
benchmark, an important barometer of market confidence in
Italy's ability to weather the eurozone crisis, shot up after
the PdL announced it was deserting the Senate vote.
The spread edged up by one point to 311 after the opening
of business on Thursday but then soared to 327 following the
PdL's move, before easing back down to 322.
Berlusconi said part of the reason he was considering a
comeback was that Italy had moved to the "verge of the abyss" in
the year since he left office.
"Today the situation is worse than it was a year ago when I
left the government out of a sense of responsibility and love
for my country," he said.
"The economy is in dire straits. There are a million more
people unemployed, the national debt is increasing, spending
power is collapsing and the tax burden is at intolerable levels.
"I cannot let the country fall into an endless recessive
Pressure has eased on Italy's borrowing costs since Monti
came to power, but his austerity policies have deepened the
recession Italy slipped into last year.
Nevertheless, the former European commissioner believes his
administration of unelected technocrats has done a good job and
defended its record on Thursday.
"The contribution Italy has tried to give, and which I
believe it has given, to taking forward the construction of
Europe positively was to work hard so that Italy and other
countries measured up to all the criteria, especially those
requested to put Italy in a position of safety and to stop a new
flashpoint lighting up in the eurozone," Monti said.
"And I think that, to a good degree, we achieved this".

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