Fitto launches new association after split with Berlusconi

Former minister founds 'Conservatives and Reformists'

(ANSA) - Rome, May 19 - Raffaele Fitto announced Tuesday that he has launched a new association, the Conservatori e Riformisti (Conservatives and Reformists), after formalising his split from Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia at the weekend. The former minister and Puglia governor is a centre-right MEP and he joined the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which the British Tories belong to, in the European Parliament after leaving FI. "We have formed a new association called Conservatives and Reformists that is inspired by the European Parliament group," Fitto told a press conference. After repeated clashes in recent months with FI bigwigs as the group dropped in the polls, Fitto effectively broke ranks with the leadership last month when he decided to support an alternative candidate to FI's official runner in his Puglia homeland in this month's regional elections.
    Previously Fitto was part of the group of FI figures considered closest and most loyal to Berlusconi.
    But last week he said that Berlusconi now represented "old politics that has served its time" and was looking to the "model of the liberal policies that took (British Prime Minister David) Cameron to victory".
    Fitto failed to outline how many lawmakers were supporting his new movement, saying what counted was the "political outlook" being created. He also tried to bury the bitterness with Berlusconi, who said FI was better off without him.
    "Forza Italia is a closed chapter," Fitto told reporters.
    "Our decision was not made out of rancour, and it would be a mistake to continue the controversy".
   

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