Italian PM sees govt lasting till 2015 amid tensions
01 November 2013, 19:30
Rome - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said his
government could last until 2015 despite escalating tensions in the left-right
coalition, ahead of a Senate vote on whether to expel former premier Silvio
Berlusconi from parliament.
The vote in the upper house Senate, due this month, has
become a focus for renewed squabbling between the centre-right lawmakers of
Berlusconi, who has been convicted of tax fraud, and their centre-left
coalition partner led by Letta.
The coalition bickering has complicated efforts to reform
the eurozone's third largest economy and pull it out of its longest post-war
recession, which began in mid-2011.
Letta told La Stampa daily in an interview published on
Friday he "firmly intended and was convinced of going forward" with
his coalition, until new national polls can be held in 2015 under a reformed
An upper house committee decided on Wednesday the Senate
vote on Berlusconi's expulsion should be open rather than secret, sparking a
flood of anger from supporters of the billionaire media magnate.
The vote has also aggravated tensions between Berlusconi
loyalists and moderates grouped around party secretary Angelino Alfano, who
want to keep backing the Letta government.
Berlusconi disputes the validity of the law under which
he faces expulsion and has threatened to withdraw support for Letta if the
upper house votes to kick him out.
Letta's government almost collapsed a month ago when
Berlusconi tried to pull his ministers out.
He then staged an abrupt U-turn after some in his party
refused to back him.
"We won a very complex battle: From 2 October we
have more strength and I am looking to the future with confidence," Letta
told La Stampa.