Former premier Silvio Berlusconi said the excess focus on the difference between Italian bonds and comparable German Bunds was used to bring down his government a year ago. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg
Berlusconi Calls Spread a ‘Scam,’ Says Monti Beholden to Germany
By Chiara Vasarri on December 11, 2012
Former premier Silvio Berlusconi said the Italy’s bond yield difference with Germany is a “scam” and Prime Minister Mario Monti’s policies have made the economy worse than when he was in power.
“Monti’s government has followed the Germany-centric policy that Europe has tried to impose on other states and it has produced a crisis that is much worse than when we were in power,” the 76-year- old billionaire said in an interview today on Canale 5 television, controlled by his Mediaset SpA (MS) broadcast company.
Berlusconi said the excess focus on the difference between Italian bonds and comparable German Bunds was used to bring down his government a year ago. That difference reached a euro-era record 575.6 basis points on Nov. 9, 2011, days before he resigned and Monti was appointed to lead an unelected government of non-politicians.
“We should stop talking about this scam. We never used to talk about it; why does it matter?” Berlusconi said about the spread. “It has been used to try to bring down a majority government voted by the Italians. Behind the crisis there has been a German strategy,” he said.
Berlusconi is stepping up his anti-European rhetoric since announcing he would seek the premiership for a sixth time and breaking with the Monti government, prompting the premier to announce his intention to resign. Italy’s risk premium has widened 50 basis points in the past week as Berlusconi’s return upended the Italian political landscape.
His People of Liberty party, which according to a Dec. 7 poll by the SWG Institute would get less than 14 percent in elections that may be held as soon as February, is seeking an alliance with the Northern League and may change its name before the vote, Berlusconi said today.
“People of Liberty is a very beautiful name, but everybody uses PDL, an acronym that doesn’t transmit emotion,” he said.
The general elections may be held either Feb. 17 or Feb. 24, Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said yesterday in Rome.
Monti said on Dec. 8 that he will submit his resignation after the 2013 budget law is passed, with the vote on the spending plan mandated by the end of the year. President Giorgio Napolitano will then dissolve Parliament, and Monti will likely remain acting premier until the vote. The former European Union competition commissioner said yesterday he’s not considering running in the elections at the moment.
Berlusconi also said that former members of the National Alliance party that are now part of the PDL, may break away and form a new party, which would help create a broader right-of- center bloc in the election. Berlusconi said he supported the move as the current election law rewards the coalition with the most votes rather than the party with the biggest support.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chiara Vasarri in Rome at o firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at email@example.com t