Friday, June 17, 2011

Berlusconi entangled in political rift

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Source: Press TV

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing a political rift in his coalition government days after he suffered a referendum humiliation.

The Italian premier's outspoken ally, the Northern League, has withdrawn earlier support for Berlusconi by pressing him to cut tax and relocate two ministries from Rome to Milan, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The tax cut proposal is aimed at restoring popularity for Berlusconi's government, which according to a recent survey conducted by Ipr Marketing firm and published by Italy's Left-leaning daily, La Repubblica, has hit a low of 29 percent.

Experts believe the risk of a split between the Northern League and the ruling People of Freedom party could lead to early elections in the country.

“At the moment Berlusconi needs the League, because without the League we don't have a majority; we go to elections, and going to elections now for Berlusconi would be a disaster,” Giovanni Orsina, a professor of political sciences at LUISS University in Rome said.

Berlusconi needs the support of the Northern League more than the League is in need of the premier's backing, Orsina added.

The Northern League will hold a meeting in Pontida this weekend to discuss the funding details for the government's upcoming fiscal reform which is aimed at winning back public support.

Berlusconi faced another embarrassment earlier this week, following the local election defeat, after 57 percent of voters turned out in a referendum to reject four government's proposals.

The voters were opposed to the government's plans to return to nuclear power as well as a law that would give legal immunity to the premier who is already a defendant in three trials involving allegations of bribery, fraud and paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl.

Berlusconi, who narrowly survived a confidence vote in December, will face another parliament vote on June 21.

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