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Berlusconi to Seek Ouster of House Speaker; Ally Sees Election

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he’ll seek to oust Gianfranco Fini as speaker of the lower house of parliament, as the premier’s key Northern League ally pushed for elections before the end of the year.

Fini “is hostile to the majority and the government, which is totally incompatible with the non-partisan role of president of the Chamber of Deputies,” Berlusconi and Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League party, said in a joint statement after a meeting late yesterday near Milan. Berlusconi and Bossi will meet with President Giorgio Napolitano in the coming days to seek to depose Fini, Bossi said.

“In the end, elections will be necessary,” Bossi said in comments broadcast by Sky TG24 television after the meeting. A vote before Christmas is “technically possible.”

Berlusconi in July ejected Fini from the ruling People of Liberty bloc, which the two political leaders founded by merging their parties. Fini immediately formed a group in parliament with enough votes to sink the government. The rift between the two politicians comes as Berlusconi’s popularity has fallen to its lowest since he came to power in May 2008.

Fini on Sept. 5 criticized Berlusconi for allowing no dissent within his party and for seeking “impunity” through laws aimed at ending his ongoing corruption trials. Fini also said he’d support the government while seeking a pact with Berlusconi and Bossi to complete the legislature’s term, which expires in 2013.

Berlusconi and Fini first joined forces in 1994, when their Forza Italia and National Alliance parties became coalition allies. They have since won three elections together, the last one in 2008, when they ran as a single formation.

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