Berlusconi 'surrounded by too many useless idiots' - Alfano
NCD leader turns on former mentor16 February, 13:11
Alfano, 43, had long been considered Berlusconi's political heir apparent before a painful split last year.
Alfano formed a breakaway group, the New Centre Right (NCD), that kept outgoing Premier Enrico Letta's grand-coalition government alive in November when Berlusconi's revived Forza Italia (FI) party pulled its support shortly before the media magnate was ejected from parliament following a definitive tax-fraud conviction.
"Because of all the kicks it has taken, Forza Italia has gone from having the support of 38% of voters to 22% and if it wants to keep going like this, it can do so," Alfano told a party meeting. "In recent years, Berlusconi has surrounded himself with too many useless idiots". Alfano's NCD is expected to reach an agreement with the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Matteo Renzi, who looks poised to form a new government after he torpedoed the administration led by his PD colleague Letta this week.
Berlusconi, meanwhile, has said FI will work responsibly in opposition to a Renzi government.