Berlusconi meets Alfano for split-avoidance talks
Centre-right party divided after rebellion sparked U-turn04 October, 15:38
The centre-right group is in danger of dividing after moderates led by Alfano, the PdL secretary, rebelled and forced Berlusconi to make an embarrassing U-turn on Wednesday and tell his lawmakers to vote in favour of a confidence motion in Premier Enrico Letta's grand-coalition government.
Just four days before, Berlusconi had ordered the PdL's ministers to quit the executive and called for fresh elections.
The political turmoil erupted in the fallout of the supreme court's decision in August to uphold a tax-fraud verdict against the three-time premier.
Berlusconi and hawks in the PdL are furious that their foes-turned-alliance partners in Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) are intent on voting for him to be stripped of his parliamentary seat because of the conviction on a Senate panel, which meets Friday, and subsequently on the floor of the Upper House.
But moderates like Alfano, while sympathising with Berlusconi, were unhappy about sinking the left-right government and causing economic and financial turbulence just as Italy looks set to emerge from its longest recession in over two decades.
The rebel PdL lawmakers had looked set to form a splinter group even though Berlusconi backed down over the confidence vote, but on Thursday a senior member of their ranks, Senator Roberto Formigoni, announced the split was on hold for peace talks.