All five Italian cabinet ministers affiliated with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are resigning from the country’s coalition government, according to multiple media outlets Saturday. The latest governing crisis in the nation could lead to snap parliamentary elections amid the fiscal problems that have beset the euro zone’s third-largest economy in recent years, as noted by BBC News.
The resignations cap a period of worsening relations between Berlusconi’s center-right political group and Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s center-left political group. These relations became especially strained when the billionaire media magnate/politician was convicted of tax fraud Aug. 1. Subsequently, he threatened to have his ministers resign should he be eventually expelled from the Italian Senate because of that conviction.
However, Berlusconi said in a statement on the Forza Italia online site that he had invited the cabinet members affiliated with the People of Liberty political party to consider resigning over a sales-tax hike to become effective next week.
Meanwhile, Letta said in a statement on his own online site that the former prime minister was using the sales-tax increase as a pretext “to justify the crazy and irresponsible gesture [of the resignations], all aimed only to cover up his personal affairs,” according to the Associated Press.
The current prime minister said Friday he himself would resign unless his government won a confidence vote in Parliament next week.
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In any case, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano -- who is charged with either calling fresh elections or overseeing the creation of a new coalition government -- indicated Saturday he did not want the country to return to the polls.
“We need a parliament that discusses and works, not that breaks up every now and then,” Reuters quoted Napolitano as saying. “We do not need continuous election campaigns, we need continuity of the government’s actions, decisions and its measures to resolve the problems of this country.”