Italy is facing renewed political uncertainty after a one-time ally of the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi launched a new attack on his leader, but stopped short of triggering new elections.
Gianfranco Fini called for change, but refused to bring down the People of Freedom government.
“The PdL doesn’t exist any more,” he said. “We must rebuild it, or change it, or it will just be a political thesis which will never survive.”
Fini said his bloc would continue to support the government, but on a case-by-case basis. That prompted some jeers from his audience as the national anthem was played.
A senior PdL figure, Fabrizio Cicchitto, said:
“I just hope that Fini meant what he said, and that it’s not just a tactic to bring the government down.”
Fini’s political opponents say he is trying to have his cake and eat it.
“He talks like the leader of the opposition. But at the same time, he wants to stay in power,” said IDV leader Antonio Di Pietro.
Berlusconi has demanded parliament’s backing for wide-ranging reforms, but his ally’s support looks increasingly uncertain. Even so, Fini insisted early elections would be a disaster for everyone.