Italy Pm Letta dismisses signs of tensions ahead of vote

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta dismissed signs of growing tension in his government on Tuesday, ahead of a confidence vote next week to confirm his new majority after Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party quit the ruling coalition.

The government said the vote would be held on December 11, after Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) elects a new leader this coming Sunday.

He gave no details on new policy proposals but said a limited programme of institutional and economic reforms would be agreed with coalition partners, including Angelino Alfano, the leader of the small centre-right group that broke away from Berlusconi and supports the government.

The decision comes a week after Letta won a Senate confidence vote on the 2014 budget by 171 votes to 135, despite Forza Italia’s vote against the coalition.

Although Letta’s majority appears solid enough to ensure he wins the vote, he must deal with growing tensions between members of his coalition government, now dominated by his PD.

Matteo Renzi, the ambitious young mayor of Florence who appears set to win the PD party leadership on Sunday, has demanded that the centre-left put its stamp more clearly on the coalition, prompting an angry reaction from the centre-right.

However Letta said he was “absolutely convinced” that whoever wins the centre-left election would back the government.

“I have no doubt that the PD secretary who is elected on Sunday will be a fundamental factor in ensuring the stability of this government,” he said at an event on Tuesday.


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