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Italian PM Letta accuses Berlusconi of telling a 'huge lie'

Centre-left Prime Minister Enrico Letta came to power in April. Credit: Vandeville Eric/ABACA/Press Association Images

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has accused Silvio Berlusconi of telling a "huge lie" after the former PM pulled his ministers out of the country's ruling coalition.

Mr Berlusconi said the withdrawal was caused by Mr Letta violating coalition agreements by freezing government activities, which he said had set off an increase in sales tax.

Mr Letta, though, said Mr Berlusconi was using the sales tax issue as cover for actions that were actually motivated by his own legal problems.

Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, has called for a resolution to avoid a return to the polls.

Read: Silvio Berlusconi may be guilty, but he's still not finished

Silvio Berlusconi: Government freeze is a 'violation'

Tensions between the two sides of Silvio Berlusconi and Prime Minister Enrico Letta have been mounting for weeks following moves to expel Berlusconi from parliament after his conviction for tax fraud last month.

The decision taken by Prime Minister Enrico Letta to freeze government activities... is a serious violation of the pacts on which this government was formed.

– Statement from Silvio Berlusconi

This week PDL lawmakers threatened to walk out of parliament if he is expelled from the Senate over the conviction.

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Berlusconi pulls his ministers from Italy's ruling coalition

Italian centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi pulled his ministers out of the ruling coalition on Saturday, effectively bringing down the government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta and leaving Europe's third-largest economy in chaos.

Silvio Berlusconi. Credit: Vandeville Eric/ABACA/Press Association Images

The announcement, which will likely lead either to new elections or the formation of a new coalition, came a day after Letta challenged Berlusconi's party to support him in a confidence vote in parliament following weeks of tension.

Late on Friday, the cabinet failed to agree vital fiscal measures to bring the budget deficit within European Union limits, leaving the fragile coalition of traditional rivals from the left and right near total breakdown.

Berlusconi ministers announce 'intentions to resign'

Government ministers in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's political party in Italy have announced their intention to resign their posts, a move that raises tension in the uneasy coalition government and increases the possibility of early elections.

Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Credit: Eric Vandeville/ABACAPRESS.COM

Vice Premier Angelino Alfano's spokeswoman said the five ministers from Mr Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom Party have decided to submit their resignations.

Today's announcement came hours after Mr Berlusconi urged ministers in his party to step down, citing the government's decision to raise Italy's value added tax.

Silvio Berlusconi's political career nears end

Silvio Berlusconi's political career looks to nearing an end tonight after the Italian senate reportedly voted to expel the former prime minister from parliament.

Mr Berlusconi addressed the nation ahead of the vote, calling on them to protest in his defence insisting he is "innocent" of tax fraud.

The vote brings an end to the former Italian prime minister's colourful and controversy-filled political career as ITV News' Europe Editor James Mates reports:

Read: Silvio Berlusconi's famous gaffes and controversies

The end credits are finally rolling for Silvio Berlusconi

by - Europe Editor

For years Silvio Berlusconi has run rings around the legal system in Italy with delays, appeals even changing laws so they do not apply to him.

Well, tonight the Senate has decided, although there are more votes to come, it is widely believed that the sentence imposed by the court will remain - he will be kicked out of politics.

It is believed Berlusconi's family and lawyers want him to resign before a final humiliation and we know which way these votes are going to go.

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly lost a vote to stay in parliament. Credit: PA Wire

What is most interesting is that his threat to bring down the coalition government - of which his party are members - if they did not let him off turned out to be hollow.

The economic situation here is so bad that his own party was not prepared to throw the country into that sort of chaos just to protect him.

An Italian friend said to me tonight: "we keep driving stakes into the heart of this guy, but like in all the best horror movies, he keeps coming back in the next scene."

It does seem tonight the end credits are rolling.

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Berlusconi vows to stay in politics even if banned

Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Credit: PA Wire

Silvio Berlusconi has vowed to stay at the heart of Italian politics even if he is expelled from government over a fraud conviction.

In a long-awaited television address ahead of Senate announcement on his future in Italy's parliament, the former prime minister said:

"I will always be with you, at your side, expelled from parliament or not. It is not the parliamentary seat that makes a leader."

The 76-year-old billionaire insisted he was "absolutely innocent" of tax fraud, before accusing judges of plotting against him to pervert democracy.

Read: Silvio Berlusconi's famous gaffes and controversies

Berlusconi urges protest against 'broken Italian justice'

by - Europe Editor
Silvio Berlusconi appeared as part of a televised address on Italian TV Credit: Reuters

In a TV address, former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi has climbed down from threats to bring down the Italian government if his ban from politics is confirmed later tonight.

He has urged his countrymen to "protest against the broken justice system" that convicted him.

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