Italy was mired in a fresh political quagmire on Sunday after Silvio Berlusconi pushed his party’s ministers to quit the fragile coalition government, a move Prime Minister Enrico Letta called a “crazy act”.
All five ministers from the People of Freedom (PDL) party on Saturday took the decision to step down at Berlusconi’s urging, said deputy prime minister Angelino Alfano, the number two in government who was among the resignations.
Italy newspapers put the blame for the new government crisis squarely at the ex-prime minister’s feet.
“The convict has made Italy fail,” read the headline in the leftist daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, alluding to Berlusconi’s conviction for tax fraud.
The centre-right La Stampa and business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore decried “the madness” of the actions taken by the media mogul who has dominated Italian politics for most of the last two decades.
The flamboyant billionaire, who turns 77 on Sunday, dismissed as “unacceptable” a demand by Letta on Friday for parliament to express support for the government next week, in a bid to end a crisis that has plagued the bickering ruling coalition.
Now, President Giorgio Napolitano will have to mediate to find a way out of the latest political impasse. He is expected to meet Letta on Sunday. Letta’s government was cobbled together following a two-month stand-off after an inconclusive general election in February.