|Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi closes his car's door on his way to Palazzo Chigi premier's office in Rome|
This development is the latest phase of a political crisis that has engulfed Mr. Berlusconi.
The prime minister is clinging to power after a series of setbacks beginning with a major defeat in regional elections last month. That has lead to the unraveling of the media baron's coalition government primarily over his handling of the economy and other issues.
On Monday, Mr. Berlusconi surprised his coalition partners by reneging on an agreement to enact sweeping policy changes and refusing to resign.
Four members of the centrist Union of Christian Democrats already have resigned their cabinet posts. Another coalition ally, The National Alliance, was to meet Tuesday to decide whether to withdraw from the government.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.