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A group of MPs leaves PdL to form pro-Monti movement

'Free Italy' seeks more defections from Berlusconi's party

21 November, 19:12
A group of MPs leaves PdL to form pro-Monti movement (ANSA) - Rome, November 21 - A group of five MPs is leaving the People of Freedom (PdL) party of former premier Silvio Berlusconi to set up a new political movement, one of the defectors said Wednesday.

"Our Schettino, who is Berlusconi, has already abandoned us," said Isabella Bertolini, the leader of the group, referring to Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner who abandoned ship after it went aground in January on a small island off the coast of Tuscany.

"The ship is grounded. It's time to lower the lifeboats," Bertolini said, adding that she and four other ex-PdL members are forming a new political movement that seeks to promote the idea of Mario Monti continuing in his role as premier after next spring's parliamentary elections, despite Monti's insistence that he will step down. The group will present its new movement, called Free Italy, or Italia Libera, Thursday at 12:45 local time during a press conference.

"The aim is to bring a piece of the PdL into the liberal-democratic debate," Bertolini said.

"In practice, it's the [party's] pro-Monti members who are coming out. We aren't forcing anyone, but we hope others will join," Bertolini said.

Defections from Italy's mainstream political parties are increasing.

Earlier Wednesday two MPs of the Italy of Values (IdV) party founded by former anti-corruption prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro said they were leaving the IdV over differences with Di Pietro.