Letta told to butt out after declaring Berlusconi era over
Alfano says centre right won't accept 'interference'07 October, 15:28
(ANSA) - Rome, October 7 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta has been told to butt out of the centre right's business after declaring Silvio Berlusconi's two-decade dominance of Italian politics over at the weekend.
Letta, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said Sunday an internal rebellion within Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, which scuppered the ex-premier's bid to sink the government, "closed a 20-year political season".
But Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is the PdL secretary and led the rebellion, said Letta should keep such considerations to his own side of the political spectrum.
"We don't accept and we will not accept interference in the free debate within our political movement," Alfano said, adding that this went for anyone, the "premier included".
"Berlusconi remains our reference point".
The PdL is in danger of splitting after moderates led by Alfano forced Berlusconi to make an embarrassing U-turn on Wednesday and tell his lawmakers to vote in favour of a confidence motion in 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 the PD are supporting a move for him to be stripped of his parliamentary seat because of the conviction with a vote on the floor of the Upper House expected later this month.
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 the split has been put on hold for peace talks.