Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

FOCUS

Many Turks angry over Syrian refugee situation

Read more

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Europe

Ministers quit Berlusconi govt as crisis deepens

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-16

Four ministers have resigned from the right-wing cabinet of Italy's embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (pictured), calling for a change of government and raising the prospect of an alliance with centrist forces in the opposition.

AFP - Four ministers resigned from the Italian government on Monday, escalating a political crisis in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's coalition that could last for weeks.

The four -- Europe Minister Andrea Ronchi, Deputy Economic Development Minister Adolfo Urso and two junior ministers -- are supporters of speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, a former ally of Berlusconi turned rival.

Fini's Future and Freedom movement announced the pull-out in a statement.

"We propose a new government, a new majority, a new agenda for reform.... Berlusconi is holing himself up in his palace like in a bunker," Urso said in an interview on the news channel SkyTG24 ahead of the announcement.

Italo Bocchino, a spokesman for Fini's Future and Freedom movement, said in an interview with La Stampa daily that there should now be a national unity government without Berlusconi that could include the centre-left opposition.

"We have to look without prejudice and an open mind to the opposition, which should be brought into a national unity government," he said.

Berlusconi "is the least qualified to be the head of a national unity government. He always needs an opponent to unify his forces," he added.

A fifth government official, Giuseppe Maria Rina -- a junior minister for transport -- also submitted his resignation in solidarity with the rebels even though he does not belong to Fini's movement, his spokeswoman said.

Fini called on Berlusconi to resign this month and threatened to pull ministers loyal to him out of the government if the prime minister did not.

Berlusconi has fought back, vowing to hold confidence votes in parliament and to fight off his rivals in parliamentary elections if needed.

Fini said on Monday that Italy's ruling class had "lost its sense of dignity, of responsibility of duty that people in public office should have."

Italy's main political forces agreed this weekend that any confidence vote in parliament would only come after lawmakers approve a budget for 2011 at a tricky time for heavily-indebted Italy on international financial markets.

Debate on the budget is set to start on Tuesday in the lower house but final approval by the upper house may come only later in November or in December and the centre-left opposition says it fears "time-wasting tactics" by Berlusconi.

Despite the political wrangling expected in the coming days, the consensus among experts is that Berlusconi's government -- in place since 2008 elections -- will eventually fall long before its mandate runs out in 2013.

The crucial question is what exactly will happen after that.

Among the scenarios outlined in recent days are: a new Berlusconi government with a different coalition; an interim technocratic government with a different prime minister; and a centre-left government supported by Fini.

Experts agree that, sooner or later, early elections need to be held.

Berlusconi's popularity has plunged and he has been under pressure from a series of scandals -- including a row over his role in a police inquiry on a 17-year-old nightclub dancer who said she attended some of his parties.

But he remains a formidable politician.

A poll published in Corriere della Sera on Saturday gave his People of Freedom party the highest proportion of voting intentions -- 26.5 percent.

It was followed by the centre-left Democratic Party at 24.2 percent; the populist Northern League party, the junior coalition partner in government, with 11.8 percent; and Fini's Future and Freedom movement at 8.1 percent.

Date created : 2010-11-15

  • ITALY

    Former Berlusconi ally urges PM to stand down

    Read more

  • ITALY

    Underage bellydancer at centre of latest Berlusconi scandal

    Read more

  • ITALY

    Berlusconi under investigation for tax evasion

    Read more

COMMENT(S)