Berlusconi scraps PdL meeting after Lampedusa disaster
Party risks split after confidence-vote mutiny03 October, 15:17
The PdL risks splitting after a rebellion by moderate members of the centre-right party forced Berlusconi to make an embarrassing U-turn on Wednesday and tell his supporters to vote in favour of a confidence motion in Premier Enrico Letta's government.
"The tragedy of Lampedusa is too big to be able to devote ourselves to the internal affairs of our parliamentary party and our party (as a whole) today," the three-time premier said in a statement.
Berlusconi sparked a political crisis on Saturday when he ordered the PdL's five ministers to leave the government led by Letta, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party.
The 77-year-old media magnate called for fresh elections after two months of tension following the supreme court's decision to uphold a tax-fraud verdict against him.
But many PdL members, including the PdL's five ministers - whose resignations were rejected by Letta - said they were not in favour of sinking the government just as Italy is showing signs of emerging from its longest recession in over two decades.
The rebellion has been led by Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is also the PdL secretary.
A joint press conference of the PdL's ministers was also cancelled as Alfano flew to Lampedusa.