Italy would pay the price of govt crisis, PD leader says

(ANSA) - Rome, August 20 - The leader of the Democratic Left party (PD) Guglielmo Epifani said Tuesday he was worried about a government crisis which would cripple Italy and cancel sacrifices made by Italians under harsh austerity measures.

"I am worried for the country", Epifani told the online paper FattoQuotidiano.it. in an interview on the risks of a crisis if ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi loses his Senate seat because of a recent tax-fraud conviction and ban from office.

"I am worried that a crisis could take the country backwards and most of all cancel efforts made by citizens, who were those who paid the highest price".

Epifani on Tuesday met Premier Enrico Letta as leading members of the conservative and progressive coalitions supporting Italy's unprecedented left-right government continued to fight over Berlusconi's political future.

Members of the three-time premier's People of Freedom (PdL) party have threatened to sink the cabinet if their leader is ejected from the Senate after his August 1 conviction for tax fraud on film rights at his Mediaset TV empire.

Letta told an Austrian broadcaster on Tuesday that economic recovery was behind the corner and it would be a "mistake" to disregard this.

"I trust the fact that Berlusconi's party will make its decisions and will take responsibility for its decisions", Letta said.

He said the PD would make the "right" choice on ratifying Berlusconi's ban in next month's vote in the Senate.

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