Italian Political Crisis Awaits Wednesday Vote


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Italian parliament is anticipating a Wednesday vote of confidence, called by current prime minister Enrico Letta, of the center-left Democratic Party. Letta has been in office since April 2013. The government faces dissolution and new elections if a Senate majority fails to back Rome. Familiar strains as the US faces its own potential government shutdown.

An Italian Senate commission will also decide this week whether or not former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi must resign his seat in the upper house of Italy’s parliament. The 77-year-old Berlusconi is making demands of his party, which is prompting this Roman turmoil.

Berlusconi is calling for nothing less than new national elections and, as of Saturday, ordered People of Freedom (PDL) ministers within Letta’s government to resign. “I think there is no other option but going to elections as soon as possible… poll numbers suggest that we will win these elections,” Berlusconi said, according his supporting Forza Italia website.

February’s elections, which resulted in Letta’s party win, were controversial at the time and left the country with a fragile cross-aisle coalition; no party having won enough votes to govern solo.

This all follows on the heels of Berlusconi’s conviction last month for fiscal fraud by the Supreme Court of Cassation, in which Berlusconi was given a, suspended, four-year jail sentence and a five-year ban from public office. He is currently appealing other convictions of illegal wiretapping and sex with a minor.

Critics complain that the government’s job is to focus on the country’s problems, not the former prime minister’s, as Berlusconi’s PDL party is apparently growing tired of their problem child and suspicions arise around his motives for this most recent move.

The Holy See newspaper, The Roman Observer, noted the Vatican’s disapproval of Berlusconi’s actions, “Triggering a [political] crisis is irresponsible, not only for its economic consequences but also for its repercussion on the Italian political class abroad.”

[Image via Enrico Letta (pictured left) and Silvio Berlusconi (pictured right) official Facebook.]