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Nov 16, 2013

Berlusconi breaks away from Italian government after party splits

ROME (Reuters) – Silvio Berlusconi, facing expulsion from parliament over a tax conviction and a revolt which split his center-right party, said on Saturday he may no longer back Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta but would not be able to bring down the government.

The 77-year-old billionaire’ s comments came after Friday’s defection of a group led by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, former secretary of his People of Freedom party, which defied Berlusconi and formed a group that has pledged to remain in Letta’s coalition government.

Nov 15, 2013

Berlusconi party at risk as splinter group formed

ROME (Reuters) – The secretary of Italian center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi’s party said he would form a breakaway group that would back Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s fragile coalition in defiance of the media magnate, who faces expulsion from parliament this month.

Angelino Alfano, interior minister and deputy premier, announced the formation of the new group on Friday. The split came on the eve of a meeting at which Berlusconi will rebrand his People of Freedom (PDL) party as Forza Italia, the original name of his political movement.

Nov 15, 2013

Italy’s Berlusconi struggles to keep party united

ROME (Reuters) – Italian center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi is struggling to control his divided party ahead of a meeting on Saturday that could confirm a deepening split in its ranks and threaten the stability of Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s fragile coalition.

After months of tension between rival factions, the congress, which will seal the rebranding of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom group (PDL) into Forza Italia, the name of his original political movement, could be the moment that decides the future of the party.

Oct 22, 2013

Small right-wing party seeks to profit from Berlusconi’s disarray

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s divided center-right is paying a heavy price for failing to arrange a smooth succession to Silvio Berlusconi, according to a minister in his last government who broke ranks with the former premier last year to set up a rival conservative party.

Giorgia Meloni, a 36-year-old former youth affairs minister, known for her rapid-fire debating and thick Roman accent, launched the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party late last year and is one of several lawmakers trying to find space on the right of Italian politics after a revolt within Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party in September.

Oct 22, 2013

Italy to demand action on migrant crisis at EU summit

ROME (Reuters) – Italy will seek an overhaul of European asylum policies and emergency action to handle a crisis that has seen tens of thousands of African migrants arrive in Sicily and hundreds of deaths, Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of a European Council meeting on Thursday and Friday, Letta said chronic instability in Africa and the Middle East meant the disasters earlier this month, in which as many as 550 migrants drowned, would not be the last of their kind.

Oct 13, 2013

Italy to step up patrols in hope of saving migrants from shipwreck

ROME (Reuters) – Italy is to step up military patrols in the southern Mediterranean to try to prevent repeats of the shipwrecks which have drowned hundreds of African migrants this month.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta said late on Saturday an “air and naval package” would be put in place south of Sicily, where tens of thousands of migrants in flimsy, overcrowded boats have made the crossing from Africa so far this year.

Oct 12, 2013

Latest migrant deaths fuel Italian, Maltese calls for EU action

ROME (Reuters) – Italian calls for Europe to do more on the migrant crisis grew on Saturday and Malta’s prime minister said the Mediterranean was becoming a “cemetery” after another boat sank off Sicily, killing dozens more people.

Italian and Maltese navy ships recovered 34 bodies and rescued 206 migrants after their boat sank about 60 nautical miles south of Sicily on Friday and rescued more than 200 others in separate incidents on Saturday.

Oct 4, 2013

Italian Senate committee starts Berlusconi expulsion process

ROME (Reuters) – Italian senators met on Friday to decide whether to move towards expelling Silvio Berlusconi from parliament over his conviction for tax fraud, opening the way for a final decision later this month which could seal his political fate.

Berlusconi, who has dominated Italian politics for the past two decades, did not attend the hearing but denounced the procedure as a maneuver by his political enemies to remove him.

Oct 3, 2013

Italian Senate committee likely to start Berlusconi expulsion process

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian Senate committee is likely to start a process on Friday to expel Silvio Berlusconi from parliament following his conviction for tax fraud, meaning the former prime minister’s fate could be sealed within weeks.

Berlusconi, who has dominated Italian politics for two decades, brushed off suggestions that his parliamentary career might soon be over after the conviction and an aborted attempt to topple the government.

Oct 2, 2013

Italian PM Letta faces Senate showdown as Berlusconi party splits

ROME (Reuters) – Prime Minister Enrico Letta warned on Wednesday that Italy risked being left without a stable government if he loses a confidence vote triggered by Silvio Berlusconi’s move to pull his centre-right party out of the coalition.

However, the media tycoon’s furious decision on Saturday to withdraw his ministers from the government has provoked a revolt in his People of Freedom (PDL) party that could see dozens of Senators defy orders and vote for the government.