Berlusconi offer rejected ahead of key vote

Berlusconi on Monday offered to strike a deal with his centre-right opponents on the eve of a crucial confidence vote.

Berlusconi offer rejected ahead of key vote

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday offered to strike a deal with his centre-right opponents on the eve of a crucial confidence vote, warning a political crisis would be "folly."

"I want to reconstitute the alliance of all the moderate forces that were at the origin of our political engagement," Berlusconi said in a speech to the Senate, the upper house of parliament, ahead of Tuesday's vote.

He proposed a new "legislative pact" with the opposition Union of the Centre (UDC) party and the allies of speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, whose break with the ruling coalition caused the current political impasse.

UDC lawmakers, however, dismissed Berlusconi's offer, saying the prime minister should first resign and then there could be talks on a new alliance.

"If Berlusconi believes in uniting the moderates, he should resign before the confidence vote," UDC party leader Pier Ferdinando Casini said.

"He always thinks that everyone else is at fault," he added.

A year of party infighting and corruption and sex scandals has hit Berlusconi's leadership credentials while a scandal over waste management in Naples has made piles of uncollected garbage an embarrassingly visible symbol of the government's weakness.

On Tuesday, dubbed "B-Day" by Italian media, Berlusconi will face a no confidence motion called by the opposition in the lower house and a confidence vote the government has called itself in the Senate, where it has a majority.

The 74 year-old premier no longer enjoys a lower house majority following a bitter split in July with former ally Gianfranco Fini and a group of rebel centre-right deputies who have formed a breakaway group from the ruling PDL party.

If he loses either vote, Berlusconi will be forced to offer his resignation.

Agencies

Last Mod: 13 Aralık 2010, 15:26
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