Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he has no intention of calling an early election after the speaker of the Senate warned he may have to go to the country sooner than planned.
“Berlusconi under siege” was the headline in a recent edition of Il Giornale over an article that promised to reveal a plot against him. Today the Senate speaker Renato Schifani made this statement: “The duty of the majority is to ensure that its representatives in parliament are united to approve government policy. If this unity is defective it means we do not observe the electoral pact with the voters. In this case it would be for voters to judge with new elections.” House Speaker Gianfranco Fini is suspected of manoeuvring behind the scenes to oust Berlusconi. Analysts believe Schifani, a close friend of Berlusconi, was challenging Fini to “put up or shut up.” Berlusconi’s centre-right party has a mandate to govern for another four years. If he was forced to call an early election his public opinion ratings are high, at 60 per cent.