Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018

Napolitano cools talk of government crisis


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, September 6 - Talk of an imminent crisis for
Premier Enrico Letta's grand-coalition government cooled on
Friday following an intervention from Italian President Giorgio
Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party has been
threatening to sink the government should its foe-turned-ally,
the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), vote to eject the
centre-right leader from the Senate after the supreme court
upheld a tax-fraud conviction against him last month, making it
Senior PdL members have said it will be impossible for them
to stay allied with Letta's PD if the centre-left party makes
good its stated intention to vote against three-time premier
A Senate panel will start examining the case Monday and is
expected to reach its conclusions soon, unless an appeal by
Berlusconi to the Constitutional Court is admitted.
A full Senate vote is required to make the ban effective
but the PdL says it will not come to that if the PD votes
against Berlusconi on the panel.
The threats abated somewhat on Friday after Napolitano on
Thursday called on the PD and PdL to avert a crisis, saying it
would be "highly dangerous" as Italy strives to emerge from a
crippling depression and retain hard-regained international
"The health of the government is better than it was 48
hours ago," Constitutional Reform Minister Gaetano
Quagliariello, a PdL member, said Friday.
Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano, who
is also the PdL secretary, said Napolitano was right to trust
Berlusconi not to bring down the executive.
Letta's unprecedented left-right government, forced into
existence by Napolitano in April after a two-month post-election
stalemate, had been "strongly wanted" by Berlusconi while the PD
was vainly trying to enlist the support of the
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), Alfano recalled.
The minister also dismissed speculation the PD might be
able to put together a new majority with M5S defectors and some
conservatives fed up with Berlusconi's litany of legal woes,
which also include a conviction for sex with an underage
prostitute and OKing the publication of an illegally obtained
wiretap against a previous centre-left leader.
"I feel I can rule out that Letta is working on plans or
solutions alternative to this majority, and he has said that
several times," said Alfano.
Letta tried not to be drawn into commenting on the
potential crisis when speaking to reporters at the G20 summit in
St Petersburg Friday.
But he did say that the international community wanted
stability in Rome.
"There's lots of interest in Italy, that Italy plays a role
and there is stability," Letta said.
"There's a need for a stable Italy in political, financial
and economic terms".
Berlusconi risks losing his parliamentary seat under the
terms of an anti-corruption law approved in 2012, which bans
anyone with a conviction like the three-time premier's from
holding office for six years.
The PdL claims the law is being applied retroactively in
Berlusconi's case, although it became effective before his
definitive four-year conviction for fraud on film rights for his
Mediaset empire on August 1.
The PdL says the offences for which Berlusconi was
convicted took place before the law was passed, and so it is
being applied retroactively, which they say is against the
Italian Constitution.
The PD has dismissed arguments from jurists sympathetic to
the PdL as "quibbling" and says the law must be applied to
Berlusconi as it would be to anyone else.
Berlusconi has appealed to Italy's Constitutional Court and
the European Court of Human Rights against the ban from the
tax-fraud conviction, which he blames, like his many other
cases, on persecution by magistrates he says are left-wing.

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