Rome

Berlusconi supporters angry at German 'interference'

Schaeuble tells Italians not to vote for ex-premier

Berlusconi supporters angry at German 'interference'

Rome, February 14 - Top brass of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party on Thursday reacted angrily to recommendations by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble that Italians refrain from voting for the ex-premier in parliamentary elections on February 24 and 25. "The German minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's declarations show that Germany now openly claims the right to intervene in the choice of the next Italian government, as though Italy were a country with limited sovereignty or an area under German influence," said PdL national coordinator Sandro Bondi, asking outgoing Premier Mario Monti and Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi what measures they intended to take against the German government. "There is no limit to the German government's arrogance," echoed PdL House whip Fabrizio Cicchitto. "Now Schaeuble is even telling us what we have to do and obviously he fully endorses Monti: another reason not to vote for him". In an interview to the weekly Espresso magazine, Schaeuble advised Italians "not to repeat their former mistake by continuing to vote for (Berlusconi)" on grounds that a return to power by the media magnate would considerably weaken Italy and the whole of Europe. He also said the country needed to remain on the path of stability charted by Monti. Berlusconi is leading the centre-right election campaign against the centre left led by Pier Luigi Bersani of the Democratic Party (PD), the frontrunner before a pre-election blackout of opinion surveys kicked in last week. The two main coalitions are followed by the populist and anti-establishment Five Star Movement of Genoa comedian Beppe Grillo and a coalition of centrist parties on a reform platform led by Monti.

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