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Berlusconi tells coalition rebels to back him

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Berlusconi tells coalition rebels to back him

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has issued a threat to his former coalition allies: back me or face new elections this year.

Long-time ally Gianfranco Fini quit Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party in July following repeated disagreements over policy.

The Italian premier said he would call a confidence vote in September. If defeated, he would urge the Italian president to call new elections before his government’s term ends in 2013

The People of Freedom party was founded in March 2009 when Berlusconi’s Forza Italia merged with Fini’s National Alliance.

The split ended the prime minister’s guaranteed majority in parliament, leaving his ruling coalition to govern with the nationalist Northern League party.