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Italy in Crisis as Center-Right Ministers Resign

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta addressing news conference, Columbia University, New York, Sept. 26, 2013.
Center-right ministers in the Italian government have announced their intention to resign, a move that could cause a collapse of Prime Minister's Enrico Letta's grand-coalition.

Deputy Prime and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano announced Saturday that all five ministers of the People of Freedom Party would resign, but he did not say when. The party chief, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, urged the ministers to resign citing the government's moves to raise Italy's value-added tax and Letta's decision to postpone government business until he had parliaments' full support.

Italy's five-months-old coalition government is a shaky alliance of center-right forces with the center-left Democratic Party. Tensions between Berlusconi loyalists and his opponents have simmered since Italy's high court upheld the media mogul's tax fraud conviction in August. Berlusconi is also facing expulsion from the senate.

The resignations must be formally submitted to President Giorgio Napolitano, who then decides whether the government can continue in some form or there should be early elections.

The Democrats have called the move "irresponsible" and many ordinary Italians have condemned it.

Prime Minister Letta warned on Friday that he will quit unless he receives pledges of solid support in a confidence vote in parliament on his government, as it struggles to pull Italy out of a recession.

Berlusconi's supporters in the upper house of parliament have threatened to quit if a senate committee votes next week to strip him of his senate seat because of the fraud conviction.

Italy in Crisis as Center-Right Ministers Resign
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