Alfano says Monti still has PdL support

'Things are unchanged' after Berlusconi threats

Alfano says Monti still has PdL support

Rome, October 29 - The secretary of Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party on Monday said it was still backing the government despite threats from the former premier to bring it down. "At this moment we are supporting it because taxes have not gone up. As far as the government of (Premier Mario) Monti concerns us, things are unchanged," said Angelino Alfano. Berlusconi, who was convicted of tax fraud on Friday, criticised Monti on Saturday, days after saying his unelected administration of non-political technocrats was doing a good job at tackling the economic crisis despite some mistakes. His comments were blasted by the the centre-left Democratic Party and the centrist UDC, both of which support Monti's administration in parliament, as Berlusconi's PdL has done since the financial crisis forced the ex-premier to resign last year. But tellingly, they were also given a cool reception from some parts of the PdL. Fabrizio Cicchitto, House whip for the PdL, expressed concern that Italy's borrowing costs would rise if there were moves to bring down the government because the ensuing political instability would hit investor confidence. There is even speculation that the PdL could split if Berlusconi follows through on his threat and tries to bring down the government. Several senior PdL figures, including Alfano, Cicchitto and former foreign minister Franco Frattini, are said to be willing to break away and support the Monti government in parliament to stop it falling.

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