Berlusconi blames Letta for govt crisis
Turmoil follows ex-premier's tax-fraud verdict28 September, 19:22
The government had been in peril since the supreme court upheld a tax-fraud conviction against three-time premier Berlusconi last month, making it definitive, but the situation spilled over earlier this week when PdL lawmakers threatened to quit en masse.
This led Letta to put on ice a decree featuring several economic measures, including the postponement of an increase in the top-band of value added tax (VAT) scheduled to take effect Tuesday, at a heated cabinet meeting late Friday, saying he would not go on unless he had support for his government with "no ifs, no buts".
"I have invited the People of Freedom (PdL) delegation in the government to asses whether it is opportune for them to hand in their resignations," Berlusconi said in a statement shortly before a spokesperson for Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the PdL secretary, announced the centre-right ministers were quitting. "Premier Enrico Letta's decision yesterday to freeze government business, in this way causing VAT to increase, is a grave violation of the pacts that this government is founded on".