ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi defiantly refused to step down on Friday despite growing desertions from his crumbling center-right coalition that have left the fate of his government hanging by a thread.
Berlusconi is widely believed to have already lost the numbers he needs to survive in parliament but he told reporters at a G20 summit in France: "We have a majority which I continue to believe is solid and so we will continue to govern."The 75-year-old media magnate described party rebels as traitors to the country and said they would return to the fold once he spoke to them.
Berlusconi, caught in the crossfire from European powers and a party revolt at home, agreed at the summit to IMF monitoring of economic reforms which he has long promised but failed to implement. He said he had turned down an offer of IMF funding for Italy.
All this may soon be irrelevant to Berlusconi who returns home later on Friday to face what looks increasingly like a deadly rebellion by his own supporters..
More at Heading Above