Italy's Crisis Plot Thickens as Legality of Vote Questioned
By Christopher Emsden
ROME--On the eve of a parliamentary vote that could bring down the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Enrico
Letta, one of his main adversaries questioned whether such a vote was constitutional.
"What government is he asking confidence for?" said Renato Brunetta, parliamentary whip for former Premier Silvio
Berlusconi's People of Freedom party.
That party had five ministers in Mr. Letta's coalition cabinet, but all have submitted their resignations, at Mr.
Berlusconi's request. As a result, there are legal questions about the planned vote, said Mr. Brunetta.
Over the weekend, Mr. Berlusconi withdrew his support from Mr. Letta's coalition government and called for fresh
elections, ordering five of his party's ministers to step down from the cabinet. In response, Mr. Letta called a
confidence vote in his government, to be held Wednesday.
Mr. Brunetta's questioning of the vote's legality may suggest that Mr. Berlusconi, who faces considerable dissent from
within his party, is trying to find a way to step back from the brink.
Wednesday's confidence vote is scheduled to take place in the senate at 0930 CET. Mr. Letta has said he hopes a number
of Mr. Berlusconi's followers will break ranks and support him.
Mr. Berlusconi is currently meeting with two of his party officials, including Angelino Alfano, the deputy prime
minister who handed in his resignation.
The resignations have not yet been accepted. They would have to be accepted, or rejected, before a confidence vote can
be held, Mr. Brunetta said.
While he is not a member of the cabinet, Mr. Brunetta has acted as a loquacious de facto shadow finance minister,
strongly criticizing Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni over the past six months even as his party remained in the
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