Neo-Fascist's stock rises as Berlusconi flounders

ROME - Silvio Berlusconi's key coalition partners were at loggerheads as he prepared to address parliament over his spat with magistrates and his plans to distance himself from his business empire. Commentators said they expected Mr Berlusconi to use the address to try to put out brushfires caused by some of his recent moves.

Support for the beleaguered prime minister has dropped while neo-Fascist leader Gianfranco Fini's popularity has skyrocketed, according to the latest opinion poll. The survey by the SWG polling institute for Famiglia Cristiana weekly magazine said only 21.4 per cent would vote for the media magnate turned politician if they could directly elect Italy's prime minister.

When asked the same question last February, just over a third had said they would chose Mr Berlusconi. The poll said 20.3 per cent would now vote for Mr Fini, up from 8.7 per cent six months ago.

The clash between Mr Fini, who heads the neo-Fascist-led National Alliance and the Northern League's Umberto Bossi occurred in a radio interview when he accused Mr Bossi of effectively working against the coalition's interests by slamming Mr Berlusconi's controversial plan to put his pounds 4.5bn-a-year Fininvest company in the hands of a blind trust.

'It is obvious that the opposition will find some way to criticise what Berlusconi proposed but it is politically much more grave that Bossi, a coalition leader, concurs,' Mr Fini said.

Mr Bossi, who has been a political thorn in Mr Berlusconi's side since he joined the media magnate's conservative government when it was formed on 10 May, opened fire again over the weekend.

He said Mr Berlusconi's plan 'just doesn't stand up' and that the League would propose its own plan whereby the tycoon's assets would be run by a special foundation for five years.

Mr Fini accused Mr Bossi, who has made it clear from the start he will not let the League play second fiddle to Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Go Italy) party, of playing into the hands of the opposition through continued open dissent.

Pierferdinando Casini, head of the tiny Christian Democratic Centre, which has two seats in Mr Berlusconi's cabinet, also said Mr Bossi should mind his political manners. 'A bit of criticism within the coalition is logical. But at some point this should stop and give way to responsibility for the common good of the country,' said Mr Casini, whose group split from the old scandal-tainted Christian Democrats this year. Mr Fini said the coalition was healthy but should concentrate on governing and avoid internal squabbles.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen