Lunedì, 15 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Govt looks doomed amid stalemate, Berlusconi office ban

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)
Rome, August 22 - The fragile coalition government
looked doomed Thursday after a meeting between Premier Enrico
Letta and Silvio Berlusconi's No.2, Deputy Premier Angelino
Alfano, failed to produce an agreement on how to proceed
following a conviction against Berlusconi for tax fraud and a
pending ban from office.
"They'll say it's my fault if the ministers (from my party)
consider pulling government support...But if two friends are in
a boat and one throws the other overboard, who's to blame if the
boat tips over?" said Berlusconi in an interview with online
daily Tempi.
In a late-night, two-hour meeting Wednesday, Alfano told
Letta, from the center-left Democratic Party (PD), that the PdL
could not countenance staying in the government if the center
left votes his party leader out of the Senate.
The Senate, where the PD has a majority, is set to vote
September 9 on stripping three-time premier and media magnate
Berlusconi of his place in the upper house according to a new
anti-corruption law that kicked in after his August 1 conviction
for tax fraud, his first definitive sentence in almost 20 years
of battles with magistrates he accuses of left-wing bias.
The conviction also came with a four-year jail term,
commuted to one year of house arrest or community service,
something Berlusconi must decide by next month.
Holding onto political power is his primary concern.
"I will not accept blackmail or ultimatums," said Letta
after the meeting adjourned in an apparent stalemate.
Renato Schifani, the PdL's Senate whip, said Thursday the
party did not "intend to pull the plug on the government," but
insisted that the PD reconsider the law that would have
Berlusconi ejected from parliament.
The PdL claims subjecting Berlusconi to the law, passed by
Mario Monti's previous government with backing from the PD and
PdL, would breach the Constitution because it would allegedly be
applied retroactively.
Berlusconi said Thursday that "the Constitution and good
sense offer many routes" for finding a "solution" to his pending
ban.
"If I wanted to smile, I could say that political and
institutional figures can't not know that. The same applies to
all of them," he added.
Speaking in Rimini Thursday, Alfano appealed to the center
left to reconsider their interpretation of the law, adding he
was "very worried" by what he saw as "preventative justice by
the PD".
"There are independent legal experts, even in the cultural
left, who maintain a basic principle for all democratic legal
systems - that punitive, afflictive laws, both administrative
and criminal, are not applied retroactively," Alfano said.
"We reiterate our request to the PD".
Dario Franceschini, the PD's minister for relations with
parliament, slammed what he considered attempts from the the PdL
to "bargain" with the stability of the government in an attempt
to win favors for their leader.
"To all the threats and ultimatums, just answer with this
simple principle: you cannot bargain to swap lawfulness and
respect for the rules in exchange for government stability.
Never," he said.
By midday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called a
snap meeting with Letta, roughly 100 days after he nodded the
moderate lawmaker to lead the unprecedented left-right
government, conceived in April after inconclusive elections
spawned two months of stalemate.

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