Saturday

27th May 2017

EU centre-right detaches itself from Berlusconi

  • Berlusconi's antics have angered even his protective EU friends (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The centre-right European People's Party on Tuesday (11 December) sought to detach itself from "populist" Silvio Berlusconi after he brought down the Italian government.

"Europe is very concerned about the recent political developments in Italy. All EPP member parties think it was a serious mistake to have toppled the government of Mario Monti," Joseph Daul, chairman of the EPP group in the European Parliament said in a press conference in Strasbourg.

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Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, a long-standing embarrassment for the EPP with his sex- and tax-dodging scandals last week announced his intention to stand again in elections. His party - the People of Freedom (PDL) - last week withdrew its parliamentary support to the government, which prompted Monti to announce his resignation.

"The EPP is against populism, be it Italian, anti-German, anti-French or any other. We are against all populists, it is a necessity to tell the truth to our citizens," Daul said.

Berlusconi in recent weeks has denounced German Chancellor Angela Merkel's austerity drive and suggested Italy may be better off outside the euro. On Tuesday, he said Italy's rising borrowing costs are a "scam and an invention used to destroy our majority that was elected by Italians."

Daul added that the EPP is in favour of a "broad pooling of the centre and centre-right." This may suggest that the party would back a splinter party without Berlusconi.

Mario Mauro, the chairman of the PDL delegation within the EPP, spoke alongside Daul and gave vague answers about a potential split.

"I want my party and all those who want a balanced position to lend support to the EPP," he said.

One part of the PDL could follow Berlusconi and his allies in the anti-immigrant, anti-EU Lega Nord party, while another wing would stay in the pro-EU centre and continue to be supported by the EPP.

"It was a great moment of madness to let Monti fall," Mauro said. He saw an "even more important role in the future" for Monti, as "all parties will have to rally behind this."

An EPP decision regarding the PDL and Berlusconi may be taken at a party gathering in Brussels on Thursday, hours before EU leaders - including Monti - are meeting for their last summit this year.

EU leaders back Monti against Berlusconi

Germany's Merkel and other centre-right leaders have indicated they would like to see Mario Monti to keep on running Italy instead of Silvio Berlusconi.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

MEPs preparing to crack down on Orban

The EU assembly's largest group is split by its "enfant terrible", but enough MEPs are likely to abstain or vote Yes on the "Article 7" crackdown over Orban's illiberal rule.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Austria heading for snap elections

Foreign minister Kurz has taken leadership of the conservative party in what could lead to an alliance with the far-right.

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