London: Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to bring down the government of technocrats led by Mario Monti, saying that the cabinet was leading Italy into a "spiral of recession", and accused the government of "fiscal extortion".
Berlusconi, who is the leader of the center-right People of Freedom (PDL) party - the largest in Parliament- would decide in the coming days whether it would end its support for Monti- a move that could trigger early polls, the BBC reports. The last election was held in 2008 and the next is due in 2013.
"We have to recognise the fact that the initiative of this government is a continuation of a spiral of recession for our economy. Together with my collaborators we will decide in the next few days whether it is better to immediately withdraw our confidence in this government or keep it, given the elections that are scheduled," Berlusconi said. His comments come a day after he was found guilty of tax fraud.
Berlusconi, who was forced to step down last year, is expected to appeal against the four-year-jail sentence - reduced to one - on charges of inflating the price of distribution rights bought by his Mediaset group to avoid paying taxes.
Monti was appointed last November, when Italy`s credit rating was affected by the eurozone debt crisis. His government has since pushed through tax rises, spending cuts and an overhaul of the pension system.
Earlier on Saturday, Berlusconi said that despite his conviction he felt "obliged" to stay in politics.
He said he wanted to "reform the justice system so that what happened to me doesn`t happen to other citizens".
"Ours is not a democracy but a dictatorship of the judges," he said. However he confirmed he did not want to stand for prime minister.