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Italy: Berlusconi rejects early elections, urges stability

ultimo aggiornamento: 31 dicembre, ore 11:24
Italy's pugnacious prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Friday reiterated earlier vows that his government will serve its full term of office, claiming that political instability could have "unpredictable" consequences for the country.


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Rome, 31 Dec. (AKI) - Italy's pugnacious prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Friday reiterated earlier vows that his government will serve its full term of office, claiming that political instability could have "unpredictable" consequences for the country.

"We believed that Italy needs everything but snap elections, which would expose it to unpredictable risks," Berlusconi said in a New Year's Eve message aired by the news bulletin of his private Canale 5 television channel.

"This is why for the Italian parliament backed the government in two votes in two months, rejecting no confidence motions that were unwisely tabled by the (opposition) left," Berlusconi added.

But he said he did not see why the government and the opposition should be able to agree to push crucial reform measures that Italy's stumbling economy requires.

"From industry to the Church, we are being asked to make every effort to avoid early elections and to do our job of governing, for which we received a direct mandate from Italy's voters," he said.

The government took office in May 2008 and the full legislature lasts until April, 2013.

Berlusconi’s grip on power had been slipping since July when he split with former ally Gianfranco Fini, the lower house speaker, who commands dozens of followers, depriving him of a safe majority.

Fini accused him of stifling debate within the ruling party and passing laws aimed at protecting him from corruption and tax fraud prosecutions.

Berlusconi's majority in the Senate remains comfortable, but his wafer-thin majority of thee votes in the lower house of parliament has weakened the government and raises questions over its ability to push through necessary reforms.

Ahead of the confidence vote, Berlusconi said he’d seek to open his government to his opponents and bring Fini supporters and members of the Catholic Union of Centrists (UDC) party into his Cabinet if he retained power.

But on 16 December, the UDC leader Pier Fernando Casini, Fini and former mayor of Rome Francesco Rutelli's recently formed Alliance for Italy party announced they were forming a centrist 'third pole' to work together in parliament.

The alliance said it contains over 100 members of the lower and upper houses of parliament and plans to prepare a common platform for local elections due early in 2011.

Rome prosecutors have opened a probe in Rome into alleged vote-buying of wavering politicians by Berlusconi's ruling People of Freedom party ahead of the crucial confidence parliamentary confidence votes on 14 December.

Berlusconi still has corruption and tax fraud trials pending against him. He says the charges are politically motivated and denies any wrongdoing.

But critics argue he is too mired in personal scandal and graft allegations to remain in office.


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