Italian political crisis threatens to split Berlusconi camp
ROME (REUTERS) - Silvio Berlusconi's bid to push Italy into new elections faces a test on Monday when he meets lawmakers from his centre-right party who have shown growing unease over his shock decision to pull support from Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition.
Berlusconi's decision to order the five ministers from his People of Freedom (PDL) party to resign from Letta's cabinet has plunged Italy into political chaos and left the euro zone's third-largest economy without a functioning government.
Financial markets, which have been increasingly nervous about Italy after a week of rising political tensions, are expected to sell off government bonds and stocks on Monday, adding to the atmosphere of crisis.
Letta will go before parliament to seek support to continue in a confidence vote, probably on Wednesday, leaving two days of manoeuvering among the parties, starting with a meeting between Berlusconi and PDL parliamentarians on Monday afternoon.