Rome

Giannino charges Berlusconi 'usurps' right-wing politics

Party leader attacks ex-premier over 18 years of disloyalty

Giannino charges Berlusconi 'usurps' right-wing politics

Rome, February 6 - Oscar Giannino, leader of Italy's free-market-oriented Stop the Decline political party, attacked ex-premier and rival Silvio Berlusconi Wednesday, accusing him of 18 years of disloyalty to his political values. "For 18 years, we have had a self-proclaimed liberal...He in fact delegitimizes and usurps some right-wing politics," Giannino, a prominent economist, told a political forum organized by the ANSA news agency. "At all times, he did the opposite of what he said," added Giannino, whose party is drawing about 1% of the popular vote, according to recent polls. "If I had betrayed my wife for 18 years, she would leave me on the first day. I do so with Berlusconi. I left him, I cannot stand anymore". Italians go to the polls on February 24 and 25 to elect a new premier and government. Giannino also said that the economic data, and not politics, should drive the decision on whether Italy will require a second austerity budget. Italy has pledged to balance its budget in structural terms this year, and to cut debt by one-twentieth per year, starting in 2015. There have been suggestions Italy may need further austerity measures to meet these targets. He also suggested he was opposed to the hated IMU housing tax imposed by the outgoing government of Mario Monti: "I'm against property tax on the Italians". Meanwhile, leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S) Beppe Grillo outlined for Italians his 20-point program to allow Italy to "exit from darkness". That includes measures to boost small- and medium-sized businesses, an anti-corruption law, reform of government grants to political parties, restoration of funds cut from public health and education spending, and abolition of the Equitalia tax-collection agency.

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