Berlusconi meets party chiefs amid reports of split
PdL divided after ex-premier provokes govt crisis01 October, 13:40
Several members of the PdL, including the ministers who quit, have expressed reservations about the wisdom of causing a government crisis just as Italy is showing signs of emerging from its longest recession in over two decades. Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the PdL secretary, even said Sunday that he may become a "different sort of Berlusconi-ite" if the party becomes "extremist". There is speculation that doves in the party like Alfano may split and vote in favour of a confidence motion in the government that Letta is likely to call after speaking in parliament on Wednesday. According to some reports, Letta will tell the lawmakers that he will only go on if those supporting the executive are willing to separate Berlusconi's legal problems from government business. Alfano reportedly spoke to Berlusconi late on Monday and said he was ready to leave the PdL along with the other outgoing ministers as he was unhappy at the decision to vote against a confidence motion in Letta's fragile government, which was cobbled together in April to end two months of deadlock after February's general election failed to produce a clear winner. Another senior PdL figure, the party's former Lower House whip Fabrizio Cicchitto, said Tuesday that the decision to withdraw the party's minister from the government was a mistake.
"After what happened yesterday, with the business world, the European People's Party, the trade associations and unions asking us to stay in the government, I hope we correct the political error we made by withdrawing the ministers," Cicchitto said.
Berlusconi, who turned 77 on Sunday, said he considered the "government experience over" at a meeting with the PdL's lawmakers on Monday at which he gave a monologue and did not allow a debate.
Several PdL members have said they may not join Berlusconi's revamped party, which is taking its former name, Forza Italia, and is replacing the PdL.