Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018
ROME

Monti puts off end-of-year press conference

English
© ANSA

(adds foreign vote, 4th 'graf).
Rome, December 19 - Premier Mario Monti on Wednesday
put off his end-of-year press conference, set for Friday after
the scheduled approval of the 2013 budget, without setting a new
date.
Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has asked for more time to
examine the budget, prompting accusations he wants to take
advantage of a period before pre-election equal-time
broadcasting rules kick in so he can revive his People of
Freedom (PdL) party's popularity by campaigning on TV.
President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday rejected
Berlusconi's contention that there was an unnecessary "rush" to
vote, saying the election campaign should not be "prolonged
excessively".
The PdL has also formally asked for a "one-to-two" week
delay in the elections because of the alleged danger of not
organising the vote in foreign constituencies properly.
The Italian media are saying the elections, expected by
February 24 at the latest, could now be pushed back to March 3.
The budget must by law be passed by the end of the year or
the State risks falling into provisional administration.
Centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani
said Berlusconi's alleged delaying tactics were "awful" and
voiced confidence that the budget could still be passed by the
end of the week.
The PD currently leads the PdL by more than 10 points in
opinion polls although the latest surveys indicate a three-day
Berlusconi TV blitz has helped his party draw almost level with
former comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star
Movement, in second.
Monti was expected to announce Saturday whether he would
stand for premier again, probably as figurehead for a group of
centrist parties, but that announcement, too, may be pushed back
after the PdL Tuesday said it wanted to go back over the budget
"thoroughly".
Berlusconi has offered to step back as centre-right leader
if Monti agrees to lead all of Italy's centrist and conservative
parties "to keep out the left".
Pundits say Monti is unlikely to take him up on his offer.

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