Berlusconi threatens Monti’s “recessive” government

ROME- Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to withdraw his party’s support from the Italian government, accusing Prime Minister Mario Monti of worsening the recession.

The former Italian premier Sivio Berlusconi announced at a press conference on the TV channel Tg5 that “over the next few days we must decide whether to remove our support” from Monti’s government.

He claimed that the measures taken by Monti’s government “have led the country into recession”, and announced that “we must remedy this recessive spiral.”

Berlusconi’s political party, the People of Freedom Party (PDL), is the most present in Parliament, and its withdrawal could lead to earlier polls.

 The threat came just days after the former premier’s jail conviction for tax fraud. He was sentenced to four years in jail and a five year ban from public office, but the sentence is not effective until the accused has exhausted his appeals.

 Last week Berlusconi announced that he would not be running in the next elections for premier, however after his trial outcome he felt “obliged” to stay in politics in order to “reform the judiciary system,” “so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to other citizens” he said on Saturday.

He says that he is the victim of a “judiciary persecution without precedence”, saying that the sentence was “unexpected and made no reference to reality.”

“There will be consequences,” he threatened.

The leading members of the PDL have distanced themselves from Berlusconi over these remarks, with the party Secretary Pier Luigi Bersani accusing him of practising a “dangerous populism.”

Pier Ferdinando Casini, majority faction leader of the Unionof the Centre (UDC),predicted that the former premier will find himself isolated.

Casini stated that “if Berlusconi goes down this road he will find himself alone,” adding that “politics doesn’t need any more blackmail.”

The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, announced “we are living difficult times, with regards to our politics, with regards to Silvio Berlusconi.”

“I understand the harsh reaction of the president Berlusconi in front of such a serious sentence, but we must work to the end to build a big deployment of centre-right moderates.”

The newspaper Il Messaggero described the Roman division of the PDL as “disorientated and silent.”