Defiant Berlusconi insists government is 'solid'
BLOODIED but unbowed, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last night brushed off opposition and lobby groups' calls for the government to resign over the country's economic woes, writes Catherine Hornby.
Mr Berlusconi insisted that his ruling centre-right coalition was solid and would push on with reforms.
Pressure rose on Mr Berlusconi last week after Standard and Poor's cut Italy's credit rating by one notch and warned of a deteriorating growth outlook, prompting widespread criticism of the government and daily calls for it to step down.
While Mr Berlusconi's coalition has been plagued by infighting and policy disagreements, the prime minister himself is battling a widening prostitution scandal that has further dented his popularity and fuelled opposition outrage.
"We can't be controlled by the expectations of the media and the opposition," Mr Berlusconi told a rally of his party last night.
"We will not resign unless there is a vote of no confidence in parliament, which we don't see happening."
He said the government would continue as a "solid and cohesive" majority and would carry out its reform plan, adding that it would examine measures to boost growth this week.
Opposition parties kept up the pressure yesterday, with Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani suggesting the formation of an emergency unity government.