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Renzi not bowing to ultimatum from Berlusconi's party

FI said election law had to be passed by Easter

07 April, 17:27
Renzi not bowing to ultimatum from Berlusconi's party (ANSA) - Rome, April 7 - Premier Matteo Renzi said Monday that he would not bow to an ultimatum from Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI) to pass an election-system bill in parliament before Easter or risk seeing an agreement on that and other institutional reforms collapse. "We don't accept ultimatums from anyone, never mind (Renato) Brunetta," said Renzi referring to the FI Lower House Whip.

Renzi won ex-premier Berlusconi's agreement for the reforms in January before he unseated Enrico Letta, his colleague in the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), to become Italy's youngest-ever premier at the age of 39 in February.

But the opposition centre-right FI has expressed frustration that the election bill has not yet started to come under examination in the Senate after clearing the Lower House.

There have also been differences over a bill approved by Renzi's cabinet to change the Constitution to turn the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives with blunted lawmaking powers. The reforms to make Italy easier and less costly to govern will also see the country's provincial governments abolished. "If they want to play ball over the reforms, fine. If not, we'll get them though the Senate (without FI's support)," he said. Renzi also denied speculation that a meeting was planned with Berlusconi to try to smooth over the tensions that have emerged over the last few days.

"I don't know of any meetings," Renzi told journalists after taking a trip to a bookshop near the premier's office.