The strain is showing in Italy as Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition government struggles to find common ground in reform talks.The BBC reports that Umberto Bossi, a key-Berlusconi ally and leader of the Lega Nord, has said that the government is “at risk”. Lega Nord is one group refusing to consider international calls for the Italian retirement age to be moved to 67.
Berlusconi is pushing for reform to meet strict economic demands from EU partners, but it appears his efforts are floundering. Yesterday he hit out in a letter that criticised those blocking reform (and neighbouring countries that criticised Italy).
Today, Italian media reports that Berlusconi has made a number of warnings that the struggle may force him to quit. “I do not know if the League will support the pension reform,” he said yesterday. “If they do not do it I could do as Zapatero in Spain.” (Zapatero recently dissolved Spain’s parliament and called an early election).
Another report suggested that Berlusconi may not go to the G20 summit on Wednesday if an agreement is not found.
As an aside, if Berlusconi does step down, it will be very revealing that the issue that forced him to step down was not underage prostitution, bribery, nepotism or any of the other scandals that have rocked his career. It will be his inability to get his government to function at all.
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