Berlusconi denies Italian coalition close to collapse

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday rejected growing speculation that his fragile centre-right coalition will collapse soon, promising new reforms as growing market pressure pushed Italy’s borrowing costs to a new record.

Mr Berlusconi said his alliance remained solid with the regional pro-devolution Northern League party, whose leader, Umberto Bossi, has expressed open scepticism about the survival of the coalition government.

“There is an absolute need for political stability and Bossi thinks exactly the same way I do. The pact we have with the League has never been up for discussion,” Mr Berlusconi said. “No credible alternative exists.”

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Tensions in Mr Berlusconi’s scandal-plagued government have grown sharply, leading to widespread speculation in the press and even among members of his PDL party that the government will fall, leading to elections a year ahead of schedule.

An unsigned letter allegedly from disgruntled PDL members called on him to step down, although it was dismissed by party leader Angelino Alfano as a “phantom”.

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