Rome, Nov 17 — Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi relaunched his “People of Freedom” party (PDL) with its old name of ‘Forza Italia’ (Go Italy) Saturday, formalising the fracture within the centre-right main political force in the country.
The split came after the exit of Deputy Prime Minister Angelino Alfano and his cabinet colleagues, who announced Friday that they would form a new centre-right group, Xinhua reported.
At the National Convention held in Rome Saturday morning, however, Berlusconi kept mild tones towards the ‘rebel group’ and recognized that, after this split, he does not have the political power to threaten the coalition government.
“Right now, after the decision taken by 23 of our senators, we are not capable of bringing down the government” Berlusconi said before more than 600 followers.
Angelino Alfano, a long-time friend of Berlusconi and former secretary of PDL, brought with him not only the cabinet colleagues but also many of the centre-right MPs.
Albano announced that he would form a new group called “The New Centre Right”, which according to local media estimations could attract about a third of PDL’s deputies. This would be especially relevant in the Upper House, the Senate, where the current government is more vulnerable.
The split within the centre-right party may thus result in more stability for the fragile left-right cabinet led by Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
Alfano explained the decision to form a new party came after all talks with Berlusconi and his hard-line follower failed. “These past weeks have shown to what extent extreme forces have prevailed in our movement,” he said.
Berlusconi, 77, has been struggling for his personal and political future since a conviction of tax fraud was confirmed in August, opening the way for his ejection from parliament.
Berlusconi tried to bring down the government in late September, asking to his ministers to pull out of the cabinet. But Mr. Alfano and the other ministers refused, forcing the media tycoon to a humiliating turn-about.
The Italian Senate will vote whether to expel Silvio Berlusconi Nov 27.