Italy’s Political Crisis Deepens

Italy’s Political Crisis Deepens
# 30 July 2010 19:09 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Italy’s speaker of the lower house rejected a call by the prime minister Friday to resign as the stand-off between the two former allies threw the government into crisis, APA reports quoting The Wall Street Journal.
Gianfranco Fini was called on to step down by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Thursday after Mr. Berlusconi’s party expelled him after months of bitter conflict.
"Obviously, I will not hand in my resignation," Mr. Fini told a news conference. As a co-founder of Mr. Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom party, Mr. Fini and his followers could threaten to diminish Mr. Berlusconi’s control over parliament by forming an independent group.
Mr. Fini told the news conference his followers would keep supporting the government as long as it stuck to the program on which it was elected two years ago.
Mr. Berlusconi has insisted his party didn’t risk losing control of parliament. "There is no risk at all," he said Thursday after announcing Mr. Fini’s expulsion. The loss of a majority in parliament could lead to early elections.
Mr. Fini had been distancing himself from Mr. Berlusconi for months as the premier’s party became engulfed in corruption scandals that led to the resignation of two ministers and a deputy minister.
Mr. Fini recently invited fellow party members close to Mr. Berlusconi to resign citing questions of morality and legality. He also spoke against government bills, including a controversial draft law to restrict wiretapping and the publication of transcripts from them.
The expulsion of Mr. Fini came hours after parliament approved the government’s €25 billion ($32.7 billion) austerity package. Mr. Berlusconi said the party wanted to ensure the budget plan received final approval before announcing the break with Mr. Fini and his allies.