Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Letta meets Napolitano in bid to avert crisis

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, August 22 - Premier Enrico Letta met
President Giorgio Napolitano Thursday in a last-ditch bid to
avert a government crisis caused by Silvio Berlusconi's ban from
holding public office.
Letta's Democratic Party (PD) is turning a deaf ear to
appeals from Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party to
refrain from voting Berlusconi out of the Senate on September 9
as a consequence of his August 1 conviction for tax fraud, his
first definitive sentence in almost 20 years of battles with a
judiciary he claims is left-wing.
"No one will make us change our minds, justice must be equal
for all," said PD leader Guglielmo Epifani.
Berlusconi is insisting he must be allowed to continue as
PdL leader and can only do that as a Senator. Otherwise, the PdL
will pull the plug on the 100-day administration Napolitano
forced into existence after a two-month post-election impasse
caused by comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star
Movement's refusal to team up with the PD.
Each side in the unprecedented left-right coalition is
trying to blame the other for a crisis that Italians, struggling
to get out of the longest post-war recession, do not want.
"They're going to say it's my fault if the PdL ministers
quit because of the judicial massacre of a leader elected by
millions of Italians," Berlusconi said.
"But I say: if two friends are in a boat and one of them
throws the other overboard, whose fault is it if the boat
lists?"
According to the three-time premier, "the Constitution and
good sense offer many paths".
The PdL claims to have many jurists, "even on the left", on
its side in arguing the ban should not be applied retroactively.
But former PD leader Dario Franceschini, minister for
relations with parliament, said "We must respond to threats and
ultimatums by affirming a very simple principle: legality and
respect for the rules cannot be bartered away for the survival
of a government. Never".
After his meeting with Napolitano, Letta said it had been
about the "prospects" of the government.
Later, Napolitano met Justice Minister Anna Maria
Cancellieri, sparking speculation he might be looking at ways to
provide Berlusconi with a judicial life-belt.
But Napolitano's office said he and the minister had only
reviewed measures to stem prison overcrowding and other pending
justice bills.
The president also met Economy Minister Fabrizio
Saccomanni, who is seeking cash for a budget hole opened up by a
floated, but still contentious, repeal of the IMU property tax,
Berlusconi's flagship electoral promise.
The PD hopes Letta will at least last long enough to push
through much-needed reforms such as changing a dysfunctional
electoral law that produced February's inconclusive result.
According to polls, voters and the business community say
another election is the last thing Italy needs.
But Grillo, who rode a huge protest vote to finish third in
the elections, was rubbing his hands at the sight of the PD and
PdL showdown, likening it to the trademark stand-offs that leave
bloody bodies splayed at the end of Quentin Tarantino movies.
"The two allies are about to tear each other apart, like
the gangsters in the final scenes of Reservoir Dogs," Grillo
said in a blog post.
"And perhaps we are finally at the end of the match," the
rabble-rousing comedian added.
"Those who caused the country to fail are in government and
want to remain at any cost.
"Berlusconi's conviction, perhaps unexpected, broke the
bank.
"There is the possibility of new elections, to turn a page
after 20 years of darkness and decline for the country".
Grillo called for a snap vote and said Napolitano should
quit because the unnatural national-unity government he cobbled
together between long-time foes had failed.
The Genoese comic said he was confident M5S would win under
the current electoral law.

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