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Italian fury at Sarkozy 'meddling' as Berlusconi prepares to resign

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

An Italian MP addressed parliament in French to protest at widely perceived French and German interference in the country’s policies during the economic and political crisis that is set to put an end to Silvio Berlusconi’s prime ministership.

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“Madame la présidente …,” Northern League MP Massimo Polledri began his intervention in Saturday’s debate on an austerity package being passed under pressure from the European Union and international finance bodies.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

After session chair Rosy Bindi asked him to speak Italian, Polledri continued in his native tongue, going on to denounce a “Franco-German directoire” which, he said, is trying to “take power” in Italy.

The debate follows Friday’s approval of the package by the Senate and should be followed by a cabinet meeting at which Berlusconi has promised to resign, probably to be succeeded by former European Union commissioner Mario Monti.

In a telephone conversation Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano that he drum up support for Monti and proposed that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visit Rome as soon as a new government is formed, according to a blog on France’s Le Monde newspaper.

The claim, widely reported in Italy, has caused indignation in the media and among right-wing parties.

“What humiliation to be ordered about by Sarkozy!” declared Il Giornale, a daily owned by Berlusconi’s family.

“Sarkozy, stay home, please,” begged Il Corriere della Sera, accusing the French president of a “superiority complex (unfounded)”.

The outcry follows anger at a video of Merkel and Sarkozy grinning at each other at a press conference when asked if they had confidence in the Italian prime minister.

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