Berlusconi wins unlikely ally

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The Independent Online
Rome - (Reuter) One of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's most vocal opponents yesterday said the media tycoon's Forza Italia party could lead a new government to pass institutional reforms and guide Italy towards fresh elections.

Rocco Buttiglione, head of the centrist Popular Party, which co-sponsored a vote of no-confidence against Mr Berlusconi's coalition, said the conservative Forza Italia party had a right to request to head a new government."We are moving toward the formation of a new government that will certainly not last four years - but it will surely last for more than four days.

"If Forza Italia agrees that this new government should tackle Italy's most urgent problems, they not only have the right to take part in it - they also have the right to ask to lead it. They are the party with the relative majority."

His opening to Forza Italia marks a change of tack for the Popular Party which linked up with the Northern League to propose a no-confidence vote in parliament. Mr Berlusconi resigned last week rather than face the humiliation of that vote.