December 5, 2013
EUROPEMonday, September 9, 2013
Letta warns of risks ahead of Berlusconi vote
Senate committee to decide if former president will be expelled from Parliament
CERNOBBIO — Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta warned of the risk of fresh political turmoil yesterday, a day before a Senate committee meets to decide whether to expel the country's former leader Silvio Berlusconi from Parliament.
As the two main partners in his fragile coalition prepare for a showdown over Berlusconi's future, Letta told business leaders that recovery had been hampered for too long by Italy's “permanent political chaos”.
“Instability has a cost, it would mean that interest rates rise again and we’ll all have to pay more,” he said at a conference in the lakeside town of Cernobbio outside Milan.
Letta, named head of an unwieldy coalition between his own centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) after last February's deadlocked elections, said his 130 days in office had not been easy.
Letta's comments come a day before a Senate committee meets to begin deliberations which could lead to Berlusconi, who has dominated Italian politics for decades, being expelled from Parliament following his conviction for tax fraud last month.
Berlusconi's lawyers have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to strike down the so-called “Severino law” which bans politicians convicted of serious criminal offences from Parliament.