Bloomberg reports Berlusconi’s Majority Unravels as Allies Turning
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s majority is unraveling before a key parliamentary vote tomorrow, with allies pressuring him to step aside after contagion from the region’s sovereign debt crisis pushed Italy’s borrowing costs to euro-era records.Calls Real, Not Gossip
Two Berlusconi allies defected to the opposition last week, and a third quit last night. Six others called for Berlusconi to resign and seek a more broadly backed government in a letter to newspaper Corriere della Sera. More than a dozen more are ready to ditch the premier’s coalition, Repubblica daily reported yesterday, without citing anyone. Berlusconi said yesterday he was confident he still had a majority.
The desertions may deprive Berlusconi of a majority in the lower house for tomorrow’s vote on the 2010 budget report. The Chamber of Deputies failed to rubber-stamp the routine measure in an initial ballot last month, prompting Berlusconi to call a confidence ballot, which he won with 316 votes, barely a majority in the 630-seat body. A second defeat on the budget law would likely lead to another confidence vote, with the defections threatening the outcome.
The premier urged the opposition to back his economic revamp because rejecting it amounts to “betrayal” of Italy. Calls on him to resign are just “gossip,” Berlusconi said.
One does not respond to gossip, begging for votes. The calls for his resignation are very real and Berlusconi knows it. Bold lies are a clear sign of weakness and do him no good.
Rats Jump Ship
CNBC reports Italy's Berlusconi at Mercy of Party Rebels, Markets
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has one day left to win over waverers and see off a group of party rebels threatening to bring down his government in a backlash over its failure to adopt reforms to defuse a dangerous debt crisis.It is entirely fitting and expected for rats to offer other rats bribes for votes. This is what politics is all about.
Estimates vary widely over how many centre-right deputies will jump ship in a crunch vote on public finance in the Chamber of Deputies (parliament) on Tuesday. Berlusconi's message to potential "traitors" is clear: you have nowhere else to go and you will be rewarded if you stay.
"We have checked in the last few hours and the numbers are certain, we still have a majority," he told party followers on Sunday.
"Berlusconi is bluffing in a last desperate attempt to save himself. He no longer has a majority in the Chamber," said Dario Franceschini of the main opposition Democratic party.
Newspapers have estimated the number of potential defectors at between 20 and 40, which would be more than enough to topple the government, but in previous narrow escapes Berlusconi has proved his powers of last-minute persuasion.
A deputy from his ruling coalition said after meeting Berlusconi that the premier was ready to reward doubters with "well-deserved jobs" in government. Berlusconi said on Friday defectors would be "betraying the government and the country".
Mass Rally Calls for Berlusconi’s Departure
Please consider Mass Rally Calls for Berlusconi’s Departure
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Rome Saturday for a rally organised by the main left-wing party to demand Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's resignation.Mish's Rule of Junkyard Politics
"Silvio out" was the rallying cry for the large crowd that took part in the rally organised by the Democratic Party, the country's main opposition movement.
Some demonstrators poured scorn on the prime minister after G-20 leaders humiliatingly put Italy's struggling economy under surveillance, amid a lack of trust in Berlusconi's reform pledges.
At the summit in Cannes, the billionaire prime minister played down the gravity of the economic crisis with a trademark quip, claiming that "restaurants are full and the planes fully booked."
"I go to restaurants... to do the washing up," read one banner at Saturday's mass demonstration.
"The sooner we send them to the junkyard the better," read one large placard at the rally, plastered with the pictures of Berlusconi's ministers, as pressure mounted on the 75-year-old leader's government.
Berlusconi's popularity ratings have hit a record low of 22 percent, according to the latest poll released on Wednesday.
Sending politicians to the junkyard is one thing. Replacing them with someone better is another. The former is extremely difficult. The latter is nearly impossible. Careful analysis of the long-term historical trend will prove my point.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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