Europe

Berlusconi 'surrender' stuns Italian press

A combination of two pictures taken at the Senate in Rome on October 2, 2013 shows Italy's" Prime Minister Enrico Letta (L) and former Prime Minister and leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi before today"s confidence vote at the Parliament.
Image caption Mr Berlusconi's U-turn dominates the front pages

The drama of Silvio Berlusconi's failed attempt to topple the government led by Enrico Letta provides rich front-page fare for the country's news media.

"Berlusconi's surrender: now the government is stronger," says the headline in centre-right Corriere Della Sera.

"The defeat of Berlusconi", says centre-leftLa Repubblica.

"Confidence [vote] for Letta and the PDL splits" is the headline in Turin's La Stampa.

Leader-writers and commentators reflect on a dramatic day that saw the former prime minister, who has dominated Italian political life for much of the past two decades, forced into a humiliating U-turn by senior members of his own party.

'New era'

"At the end of a day that has changed the political order, the winners and the defeated remain on the battlefield," writes Stefano Folli in leading business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

"It is fair to say that two decades of Berlusconi rule have come to a conclusion and that a new era is now starting," he writes.

Massimo Franco writing in Corriere Della Sera praises what he calls the "courage of the moderates" led by People of Freedom (PDL) party secretary and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

Mr Berlusconi, he writes, had become "detached from reality" to the point where his political antennae failed to register the "moderate emancipation of his ministers and of many parliamentarians".

A front-page editorial in La Stampa says the former prime minister's "charismatic leadership" of his party, which previously allowed any dissent to be brushed aside, came to an abrupt end when he realised that a party split was imminent.

For Curzio Maltese in La Repubblica, Prime Minister Enrico Letta "emerges as a giant" from the "duel" with Mr Berlusconi.

In his address to the Senate asking for confidence, he writes, Mr Letta "did not cede any ground... he found the right tone and the right words."

'Betrayal'

The Berlusconi-supporting Il Giornale seeks to put a brave face on Wednesday's events, saying that in the end Mr Berlusconi chose to act in the best interests of his party and in the hope of holding it together.

"To save the PDL, Berlusconi makes them all vote confidence in Letta", it says.

But the previous day the paper ran a banner headline which shouted "Alfano betrays".

The paper speaks of Mr Berlusconi's "bitterness" over Mr Alfano's behaviour, and speculates that the "secessionists" in the party are already divided about the way forward.

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