Being PM is a burden, says Berlusconi
Rome - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told supporters on Friday that being prime minister was "a burden" but that he had to stay on for the sake of Italy's financial stability.
"Being in government, especially during a global crisis like this one, is a great personal sacrifice for me and for the whole government," he said in a video message, while claiming that there was "no alternative" to his rule.
"It is a burden that personally I would be glad to be rid of, were it not for the fact that a government crisis is the last thing that Italy needs now," he added.
"Instead of worrying about my post, the opposition should worry more about Italy's interests. Our country at this time of global crisis - and let's remember, this is an unprecedentedly grave and deep crisis - needs political stability."
"Unfortunately for the left, there is no alternative to our government," he continued, adding that Italy's centre-left opposition was "incapable of governing" because it was too rooted in communist ideology.
The 75-year-old premier also said that elections before the end of his government's mandate in 2013, a demand made by the opposition, would be "useless" and would "create instability and pave the way for financial speculation."
"We will continue to implement our programme of reforms," he said.
Berlusconi is a defendant in three trials for bribery, tax fraud, abuse of power and paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl. Recent news reports say he was provided with prostitutes by a corrupt businessman in an attempt to obtain favours.
The government has also been shaken by growing infighting within Berlusconi's centre-right coalition and in particular tensions with Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti and with the Northern League party, a key coalition partner for Berlusconi.
Italy's main employers' federation Confindustria has added to pressure on Berlusconi, saying more measures are needed to boost economic growth.
Italy has also been hit by credit downgrades from Moody's and Standard & Poor's.