Berlusconi Says League Plotting Government With Five Star

(Bloomberg) -- Silvio Berlusconi’s party accused the League of breaking the center-right coalition’s unity in an attempt to form a government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

In a text message Berlusconi’s Forza Italia Party described as “an act of cold hostility” the decision of the League to vote for ex-minister Anna Maria Bernini for the job of speaker of the Senate. While she is a member of Berlusconi’s party, she wasn’t its selected candidate.

The former premier’s office said that the Senate vote, “on the one hand breaks the unity of the center-right coalition, and on the other reveals a plan for a League-Five Star government.”

The accusation threatens to shatter the parliamentary group that won the most seats in the inconclusive March 4 general election. Both Matteo Salvini of the League and Luigi Di Maio of Five Star have claimed the premiership although they are short of a majority.

Lawmakers in each house of parliament started voting Friday to elect speakers, a clue to possible new alliances in the search for a government with a working majority.

Forza Italia had selected former minister Paolo Romani as its candidate for the Senate job, but Salvini’s senators voted against him. Salvini’s decision is seen by Forza Italia as yielding to Five Star, which had ruled out backing Romani or any candidate with a judicial conviction. Romani has been convicted of embezzlement, an offense he denies.

Salvini said the League’s choice was “a courageous and generous help to the coalition” to break a political deadlock, in remarks quoted by newswire Ansa.

Salvini and Di Maio have taken the lead in attempts to broker a deal over the speakers. The ballots could run until early next week after several rounds of voting on Friday produced no result.

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