Berlusconi's deputies divided over bid to force new elections

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Berlusconi's deputies divided over bid to force new elections

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Italy’s prime minister arrived at the presidential place on Sunday on an urgent mission to shore up his government. Enrico Letta said he will present a plan to parliament on Wednesday.

His meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano follows the decision by centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi to pull his ministers out of the five-month-old coalition.

Berlusconi has lashed out at Letta’s Democrats saying he thought there was no other way than to call for elections as soon as possible.

The current crisis erupted during clashes in cabinet over an imminent sales tax hike, but many believe Berlusconi is just trying to avoid being ousted from parliament since being convicted of tax fraud.

His order to his ministers to quit has triggered a rare display of dissent. Berlusconi’s number two, Angelino Alfano and others have questioned their leader’s actions. A financial market backlash is expected should the government fall.

With Italy already in danger of failing to meet its three percent budget deficit target, the European Union and International Monetary Fund have warned that political stability is vital to drag the country out of its longest postwar recession.