“[Prime Minister Enrico] Letta’s ultimatum is unacceptable and inadmissible,” Silvio Berlusconi announced today, the newspaper reports. “The ministers of the PdL will immediately resign.”
Berlusconi’s announcement looks likely to mean that Letta’s broad coalition government will collapse without the support of Berlusconi’s PdL party, leading possibly to more elections and instability in the troubled country.
Tensions had been high since Berlusconi was finally found conclusively guilty of tax fraud earlier this summer. The verdict should have effectively ended the Italian billionaire’s political career, but his allies threatened to bring down the government unless Italy’s president agreed to pardon Berlusconi, or at least limit his ban from politics. Berlusconi and the PdL were effectively holding Italy hostage.
The final straw for Berlusconi seems to have been Letta’s call for a clear show of support from all members of the coalition.
It’s unclear exactly what will happen now — Letta may be able to form another coalition, but additional elections may be more likely. Either way, it’s more chaos when the country desperately needs action.