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EP Speaker Schulz warns Italians against voting Berlusconi

German says ex-premier took country to 'abyss'

21 February, 12:01
EP Speaker Schulz warns Italians against voting Berlusconi (see related story on election campaign) (ANSA) - Berlin, February 21 - European Parliament Speaker Martin Schulz has warned the Italian people against voting for three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right alliance in Sunday and Monday's general election.

The MEP told German tabloid Bild that Berlusconi had "already sent Italy to the bottom of the abyss once with the actions of an irresponsible government".

Berlusconi was forced to resign as prime minister in November 2011 when Italy's debt crisis threatened to spiral out of control and his government was replaced outgoing Premier Mario Monti's emergency administration of unelected technocrats.

Schulz and Berlusconi have had several run-ins in the past.

In December Schulz said that Berlusconi was bad for Italy and for Europe.

Berlusconi compared Schulz, who is German, to a Nazi concentration camp guard during an angry exchange at the European Parliament in June 2003.

Schulz added in the interview that "a lot is at stake" in the upcoming vote, including the risk of losing confidence that has built up in Italy on the international stage and on the money markets since Monti took power.

"I have great faith that Italian voters will make the best choice for their country," Schulz said.