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Berlusconi's new party breaks away from Italy's ruling coalition

Embattled Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi has said his center-right party has split from Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s ruling coalition. However, the withdrawal is not enough to bring the government down.

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Berlusconi's party splits, renames itself

Speaking at a congress to rebrand the People of Freedom Party (PDL) as Forza Italia, Berlusconi said his impending expulsion from parliament meant the partnership between Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition could not continue.

"It's very difficult to think you can remain allies in parliament and above all seated at the same table in Cabinet with someone who wants to kill your leader politically," Berlusconi said.

Letta's Democratic Party formed a coalition with the PDL following an inconclusive national election in February that left neither able to form a government on its own.

Berlusconi's comments come one day after a group led by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, former secretary of his PDL party, defected to form the New Center-Right party. Alfano's new party could lure away about a third of PDL's deputies in the parliament and the Senate, media reports said Saturday.

Berlusconi's party has been in turmoil ever since he tried to bring down the government in September by pulling his ministers out of the Cabinet. However, he was forced to backtrack when they refused his orders.

The 77-year-old former prime minister's political future has also been in the balance since he was convicted of tax fraud in August. The Senate plans to vote on November 27 to confirm his expulsion from parliament.

hc/ph (Reuters, AP)

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