Accessibility links

Italian Government in Danger of Collapse

Italy's longest post-war government risks collapse. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in trouble after two small parties withdrew their support from the governing center-right coalition.

The centrist UDC party, which has four ministers in government, was the first to decide to withdraw its support from the center-right government. Then, the new Italian Socialist party, which has only two minor government posts, followed its example.

The parties had called on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign and form a new government following heavy losses in regional elections earlier this month. Mr. Berlusconi refused and the parties pulled out.

The parties say they will still support Mr. Berlusconi in the parliament. But Italy's longest serving prime minister since World War II risks the collapse of his four party center-right coalition government.

After losing 11 out of 13 regions in local elections held at the beginning of April and with general elections coming up in 2006, Mr. Berlusconi has come under increasing pressure from his coalition allies.

Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini Thursday called on the prime minister to go the parliament next week with the government's platform and ask for a confidence vote.

Following the withdrawal of the two parties, the center-left opposition said Italy is facing a political crisis and Mr. Berlusconi must resign.

Romano Prodi, the prime minister's leading opponent, said the country needs a government that has the support of all the parties in the ruling coalition otherwise it's better to hold early general elections.

But Mr. Berlusconi says it will not be that easy for his opponents to get rid of him. However, his popularity has declined recently because of a poor economic situation and increasing opposition by the Italian public to keeping soldiers in Iraq.