Hours After Passing Austerity Bill, Berlusconi Government Rocked By Schism

Berlusconi shrugs

Hours after passing a package of $33-billion in budget cuts, Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi called on former ally Gianfranco Fini to step down as speaker of the house.

Fini, an ex-fascist, refused to step down, announcing instead he was quitting the People Of Liberty party and joining the Future and Freedom for Italy coalition. At least 50 ministers are expected to follow Fini, according to European Voice, which may lead to the collapse of Berlusconi’s government:

Berlusconi publicly attacked Fini, co-founder of the ruling People of Freedom party (PdL), yesterday (29 July), accusing him of being a “traitor” and stirring up dissent within the party.

Berlusconi told reporters in Rome that there was “no risk at all” that his government would lose its parliamentary majority in the 630-seat lower house as a result of the split. Fini and his supporters, who have about 50 seats in parliament, are expected to set up an independent group, but it remains unclear whether they can muster enough members to bring down the government.

Although tensions were brewing for months, as Fini criticised Berlusconi’s camp for sexual affairs and corruption, this break seems like a response to the budget cuts. Berlusconi has become a political liability.

So can any party survive the austerity regime?

Now check out Niall Ferguson’s complete and definitive guide to the sovereign debt crisis –>

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