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Silvio Berlusconi's PdL party leads the polls once again

Yet 53% of his supporters say 'no' to government crisis

30 August, 12:55
Silvio Berlusconi's PdL party leads the polls once again (ANSA) - Rome, August 30 - Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party (PdL) has roared back into first place among Italian political parties, according the latest election survey conducted by Italian online polling company SWG.

The centre-right PdL appealed to 27.9% of voters polled, rising six points over the February 25-26 elections to become Italy's most popular political party, according to the survey. The centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which edged out the PdL in last election, sank one and a half points to 24%. The anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S), led by ex-comedian Beppe Grillo, also lost ground, slipping from 25.5% last February to 20.1% in the survey, which was conducted for the television programme Agora' on RAI 3.

The leftwing Freedom Ecology Left (SEL) party - headed by Puglia governor Nichi Vendola and allied with the PD - gained three points to reach 6.6% in the latest poll.

Support for the anti-immigrant Northern League also rose one point to 5.1%.

Mario Monti's Civic Choice party, which won 8.8% of the vote in February together with Gianfranco Fini's centre-right Future and Freedom Party (FLI), sank this time to 4.5%.

The PdL's remarkable political comeback comes with a large caveat and possible political pitfall, the survey found, however.

Seventy percent of Italians believe Berlusconi should allow the government to continue regardless of whether the Senate removes him from the Upper House in a vote on September 9, including over half of the centre right's own electorate.

The PdL has repeatedly threatened to scupper the government's fragile right-left majority if the three-time premier's Senate seat is taken away as a result of his definitive conviction for tax fraud August 1 - his first definitive sentence in almost 20 years of battles with magistrates he accuses of left-wing bias.

But if the PdL pulls the plug on the current government, led by the PD's Enrico Letta, they will anger 53% of their own supporters. Only 39% of the centre-right voter constituency is actively in favour of creating government crisis.

Meanwhile, 87% of the centre-left electorate and 68% of M5S supporters think Berlusconi's troubles should not interfere with stability of the current government.