Monti Sees Berlusconi Refraining From Threat to Topple Coalition

Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he expects Silvio Berlusconi to refrain from carrying out threats to bring down the coalition government in his fight to contain the fallout from his tax-fraud conviction.

Monti, 70, is head of the third-biggest party in the government and has been associated with Berlusconi, a three-time ex-premier, since the 1990s through political appointments, alliances and rivalries.

“Mr. Berlusconi in recent years and months has most of the time behaved like a statesman,” Monti said today in a Bloomberg Television interview with Guy Johnson from Cernobbio, Italy. “Responsible behavior, not by Berlusconi’s party, but by Berlusconi himself is likely.”

Berlusconi said on Aug. 30 that he would bring down the government if Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s Democratic Party votes to oust him from the Senate. He softened his rhetoric a day later, saying he wasn’t issuing an ultimatum and he wants the government to continue. Still, allies including Renato Brunetta, chief whip of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party in the lower house of parliament, have kept pressure on.

Berlusconi faces potential expulsion from parliament because he was convicted of tax fraud and last month exhausted his final appeal. The Democratic Party, whose members opposed Berlusconi for almost two decades, has said the ouster is warranted under a 2012 anti-corruption law.

If Letta were to lose a confidence vote, it would be up to President Giorgio Napolitano to either seek a new majority or dissolve parliament. Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, the upstart anti-establishment party, is the biggest force in opposition. Grillo, a comedian-turned-political crusader, has ruled out alliances with other parties.

In all events, “I think an effort will be made by the president to ensure the survival” of Letta’s government, Monti said. “Support from some of the parties not supporting the government at this time might come up on such an occasion.”

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