Berlusconi Eyes Early Elections

Silvio Berlusconi celebrates after a debate in the upper house Wednesday, August 4, 2010.

From Margherita Stancati and Christina Passariello,  the Wall Street Journal:  Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is gearing up for possible early elections, his spokesman said Thursday, as the leader seeks an exit from the political crisis that has engulfed his government.

"The prime minister warned everyone … to ‘get ready’ for possible elections," Mr. Berlusconi’s spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, said on Italian television Thursday morning. …

On Wednesday, Mr. Berlusconi’s center-right coalition was able to defeat a motion to dismiss a junior minister because Mr. Fini’s followers and other opposition parties abstained from the vote. …

Pushing for early elections could solidify Mr. Berlusconi’s grip on power, allowing him to get rid of rebel lawmakers at a time when the opposition is particularly weak. However, Mr. Berlusconi also suffers from record low approval ratings.

Other senior government officials have also floated the possibility of early elections. "Although there are no precedents of elections in the fall, this cannot be ruled out in the face of a severe political crisis," Interior Minister Roberto Maroni of the Northern League party, Mr. Berlusconi’s key coalition partner, said in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily on Wednesday.  (photo: Reuters)

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