Italy’s PM to see if shaky coalition can survive

ROME: Italian Premier Enrico Letta is sounding out Cabinet ministers to see if his five-month-old government can survive escalating tension over ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction. Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom Party partners with Letta’s center-left Democratic Party in an unusual alliance of rival forces. Letta called the Cabinet meeting Friday night to help determine if the media mogul’s lawmakers still back the government. Nearly all of Berlusconi’s senators have vowed to quit if a Senate committee votes next week to strip him of his seat because of the conviction, which was upheld Aug. 1 by Italy’s top court. Before the meeting, Letta huddled with Italy’s president, who opposes early elections in case the coalition falters. Berlusconi says he is the victim of prosecutors he claims sympathize with the left..

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