Silvio Berlusconi will seek to reclaim Italy’s prime ministership while his conservative party has withdrawn its support for Mario Monti’s technocratic government.
After meeting with party leaders on Friday, Berlusconi claimed in a statement that, “The situation today is much worse than it was a year ago when I left the government out of a sense of responsibility and a love for my country.”
“I cannot let my country fall into a recessive spiral without end. It’s not possible to go on like this,” he said after explaining that he had been “besieged by requests” to stand for election again.
An SWG opinion poll found 73 percent of Italians disapproving of the former prime minister’s decision to run again. Berlusconi was forced to resign in November of last year when the country teetered on the brink of sovereign default.
Angelino Alfano, secretary general of Berlusconi’s Il Popolo della Libertà, withdrew his support from the incumbent interim government on the same day which therefore no longer has a majority in parliament. But Alfano vowed not to bring Monti down. “Yesterday we did not give a vote of no confidence because we consider the experience of the Monti government has come to an end. But we don’t want to send the institutions and the country into chaos,” he said.
Alfano cited a collapse in home sales, economic contraction and raised taxes as reasons for his party to withdraw its support but offered the fiercest criticism of Monti’s government when he accused it of bowing to the left-wing Partito Democratico which in turn he claimed had bowed to the trade unions on tepid labor market reforms.
The left’s leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who was formally nominated for the prime ministership this weekend, accused the conservatives of “irresponsibility” and wondered, “You think you have some responsibility in the crisis?” Partito Democratico argues that parliament ought to be dissolved if Monti cannot be sure of the backing of the right.