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Berlusconi says Italy cannot leave euro, Northern League agrees

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi attends a news conference in Rome in this November 25, 2013 file photo. — Reuters picItaly's Silvio Berlusconi attends a news conference in Rome in this November 25, 2013 file photo. — Reuters picROME, Jan 9 — Silvio Berlusconi said today that Italy must not leave the euro and that his main ally going into March’s election, the Northern League, agrees that quitting the currency would be unsustainable for the economy.

The League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, has given mixed signals about the euro — which many Italians blame for the moribund state of their economy. He ridiculed the idea of a referendum proposed by the rival 5-Star movement, but as late as last week pledged to rectify the “error” of the single currency.

Berlusconi — who hopes to lead the centre-right back to power in March — said the common currency should be continued to be handled in the manner that European Central Bank head Mario Draghi has done.

“Salvini is no longer of the idea that we should leave the euro,” Berlusconi said. “He has understood that it would be unsustainable for our economy.”

Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party, the Northern League and a second far-right party, Brothers of Italy, look set to win the March 4 election but with less than an absolute majority.

Hostility to the euro is a prominent issue in campaigning for the election and the prospect that anti-establishment parties could try to pull the country out of the single currency has rattled financial markets.

Berlusconi and others say the euro was introduced to Italy with too high of an exchange rate to the old Italian lira. — Reuters

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