Italy Crisis: Berlusconi backs down on confidence vote

Ex-Prime Minister says he will now support the government having failed to gain the backing of his own party

Media mogul and ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced an embarrassing U-turn on his plans to dismantle the Italian government, saying his party will back the coalition of incumbent premier Enrico Letta in an upcoming vote of confidence.

Speaking briefly to a shocked Senate in Rome, Mr Berlusconi said: “Italy needs a government that can produce structural and institutional reforms. We have decided, not without internal strife, to back the confidence vote.”

It is a dramatic climbdown from Mr Berlusconi, who on the weekend pulled five of his Minsters out of the cabinet in an attempt to sabotage government stability and trigger snap elections in the country.

But it became clear Mr Berlusconi’s coup was ill-conceived after rebels within the ex-Prime Minister’s party made themselves known.

Senior allies in the past – including Angelino Alfa, the man seen as Mr Berlusconi’s political heir - made it clear that they would flout the ex-Prime Minster’s wishes, and vote instead for Mr Letta and the stability of government.

After inconclusive elections in February and a two-month political deadlock, a grand coalition was formed in April between Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s centre left Democratic party and Mr Berlusconi’s centre right People of Freedom party.

But the union has not been a happy one, with many dissatisfied that Mr Berlusconi’s legal problems have at times threatened to overshadow the debt-ridden country’s severe economic problems.

In August Italy’s high court upheld a tax fraud conviction against Mr Berlusconi, who faces a four year prison sentence.

Addressing the senate ahead of the vote of confidence, Mr Letta told Italian MPs they had a duty to keep Italy’s government on an even keel given the country’s fiscal woes.

He said: “Give us your confidence to realize these objectives. Give us your confidence for all that has been accomplished. A confidence vote that isn't against anyone, but a confidence vote for Italy and Italians.

Addressing the civil disorder that has characterised Italian politics in recent years, Mr Letta said: ”The majority of Italians are telling us - I should say they are yelling at us - that they can't take any more of these scenes of bloodshed in the political arena, and (politicians) who fight over everything but nothing ever changes,“ he said.

The August upholding of the Mr Berlusconi’s four-year prison sentence was the billionaire media tycoon’s first definitive conviction in up to 30 court cases.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'