Rome

Berlusconi says 'won't campaign against Monti'

Ex-premier had threatened to pull support from technocrat

Berlusconi says 'won't campaign against Monti'

Rome, November 1 - Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday said his centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party would not "campaign against (Italian Premier Mario) Monti", a few days after the ex-premier threatened to pull support from the current government. "We won't wage a campaign against Monti," he said. "But we are convinced that austerity measures imposed by the European Union have put the economy on an endless, downward spiral". 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 centre-left Democratic Party (PD) 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 by 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 had been speculation that the PdL could split if Berlusconi followed through on his threat and tried to bring down the government. In the same statement Thursday, Berlusconi also blamed Germany for "pressuring" the EU to impose tough austerity measures on the region, "like a dominion, not out of solidarity, but egotism".

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