As many as 20 centre-right Italian senators are poised to break away from Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) Party, according to reports.
The speculation of a potential revolt within the party came after Berlusconi – who has been convicted of tax fraud – asked PDL ministers to resign and called for fresh elections in Italy.
The PDL’s Mariastella Gelmini said there was not an irrevocable split within the party: “I’m pretty sure that there is still enough room for finding common ground. With our leader, we can show a united party with a clear position,” she said.
A confidence vote on Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government is due to take place on October 2.
Letta commands a strong majority in the lower house of parliament, but he must secure one in the Senate as well to continue to govern. The PDL is the second largest party in the Senate.
Across the political spectrum, lawmakers have been critical of Berlusconi’s role in Italy’s current political crisis.
Roberto Speranza of the Democratic Party (PD) complained: “Berlusconi’s putting his own personal interests before those of Italy.”