Italian PM threatens to walk out

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has threatened to resign unless his fragile coalition cabinet receives clear backing in a parliamentary vote expected to be called next week.

The Saturday warning came a day after he failed to secure backing for a vital 3-billion-euro (USD 4.06-billion) package of budget measures in a showdown with center-right partners. The failure has taken the Italian government to the brink of collapse.

Letta’s government is an unstable coalition between his center-left Democratic Party (PD), and the center-right People of Freedom (PDL) political party led by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi is battling against a conviction for tax fraud and risks expulsion from parliament under legislation that does not permit convicted criminals.

Last month, Italy’s top court sentenced Berlusconi to four years in prison, but later commuted the sentence to a year of house arrest or community service.

On September 25, PDL lawmakers said they would leave the cabinet en masse in protest if an October 4 Senate committee meeting votes to expel their leader from the parliament.

“Efficient government action is obviously incompatible with the mass resignation of a parliamentary group which should support the government,” Letta said in a statement after a cabinet meeting on Friday, adding, “Either there is a new start and the interests of the country and its citizens are put first, or this experience is at an end.”

The friction between PD and PDL political parties is paralyzing the Italian government. Letta is now expected to go before parliament next week to call a confidence vote and seek support to continue in office.

The PDL™s pullout from the Italian government would lead to snap elections. Opinion polls suggest that the two traditionally rival parties have roughly equal support among voters.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and business leaders have warned that any new election would probably produce another stalemate as the eurozone’s third-largest economy is still mired in recession.

Italy struggles to manage a two-year-long recession, a two-trillion-euro (USD 2.7-trillion) public debt as well as a youth unemployment rate of around 40 percent.


Copyright: Press TV