The speaker of the Italian parliament has brushed off threats to force him to resign, saying there is nothing in the constitution to make him do so. Gianfranco Fini’s increasingly bitter relations with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi saw him attack his one-time ally in a speech at the weekend. The prime minister hit back saying he would ask President Giorgio Napolitano to sack Fini.
The row may trigger early elections, although Fini said he doesn’t want to bring the government down. The Northern League leader Umberto Bossi is the only one keen on an early vote, seeing himself as a potential king-maker.
The split with Fini has left Berlusconi without a majority; he’s threatened a vote of confidence on his reform plans, promising to resign if he loses.
Parliament resumes today after the summer break. The timing of a confidence debate remains unclear, but a decisive showdown between the two men may be approaching.