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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Day In a Page

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public