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Berlusconi’s Party Split on Monti Government, Early Elections

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party split over whether to hold elections after he resigns following parliament approval of debt-reduction measures.

“We still think that after the current government early elections must take place,” Angelino Alfano, the head of the People of Liberty party, said after a meeting with Berlusconi at the premier’s residence in Rome. Alfano’s comments, first reported by news agency Ansa, were confirmed by Francesco Sciotto, a spokesman for the party.

Alfano’s remarks contrasted with those of Foreign Minister Franco Frattini earlier today. “I would be cautious about calling early elections, pushing the country toward three months of election campaigning while bond yields soar and our debt climbs,” Frattini said before attending the meeting with Berlusconi and Alfano.

Frattini said former European Union Competition Commissioner Mario Monti, the top candidate to succeed Berlusconi, “has an international reputation nobody can deny.”

Monti, who was named yesterday by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano as a Senator for Life, may be nominated as soon as Nov. 13, newspapers including Il Sole 24 Ore reported today.

Senator Giuseppe Pisanu, a member of Berlusconi’s party, said yesterday he “totally” opposes the idea of early elections. “If they decide to go ahead with an early vote, I will leave” the People of Liberty party, Pisanu, a former interior minister, told reporters in Rome.

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