Former PM Silvio Berlusconi has relaunched Forza Italia (Go Italy) party as his People of Freedom (PDL) party split between his supporters.
“I am happy that we have returned to this name, the one we all still have in our hearts: Forza Italia,” Silvio Berlusconi said at a party conference in Rome before hundreds of delegates, who voted unanimously to the name change of the party with the 77-year-old leader again at its helm.
Silvio Berlusconi supporter, Senator Vincenzo Gibiino, said: “Forza Italia is reborn thanks to Berlusconi who has decided to throw himself into the fray for all our sakes.”
At least 250 delegates, however, were not present. This faction, led by former PDL deputy leader Angelino Alfano, previously said they would not attend the PDL party conference, announcing the formation of breakaway party called Nuovo centrodestra (New Centre Right).
Composed of between 56 and 60 parliamentarians, the Alfano group would be large enough to ensure the survival of the prime minister‘s government should Berlusconi supporters drop out of the ruling coalition under the leadership of centre-left PM Enrico Letta.
At the centre of PDL split is how the party would react to the possible expulsion of Berlusconi from parliament over a tax fraud conviction.
The possibility of parliamentary expulsion, the decision for which is to take place on November 27, is seen as likely because the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the PDL‘s main coalition partner, is unwilling to let the scandal-prone politician keep his seat.
On Saturday, Silvio Berlusconi repeated his allegation that it was impossible for his party to remain in parliament with people who wanted the death of the one of the party‘s leaders.
The Alfano group, however, has argued the good of the country necessitated the continuance of the Letta government.
Negotiations within the PDL to prevent a party split continued until the last minute, with Alfano demanding in addition to remaining in the governing coalition an increase of democracy within the party and other issues.
In a 30-minute-long speech, Silvio Berlusconi appeared to signal his readiness to enter the opposition, criticizing the Letta government, accusing it of failed economic policies and lacking political will within Europe.
Silvio Berlusconi thundered against taxes and maintained that when he was head of government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French former president Nicolas Sarkozy never liked him because he had “the experience and the will to say no to many of their suggestions.”
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