- - Sunday, November 14, 2010

IRELAND

Sinn Fein leader seeks Irish parliament seat

KILKENNY | Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams announced Sunday that he intends to quit his political posts in Northern Ireland and seek election to parliament in the Republic of Ireland, a surprise gambit timed to capitalize on the economic crisis.

Mr. Adams told supporters in the border county of Louth that he would seek to win one of the area’s seats whenever Prime Minister Brian Cowen calls a general election.

Mr. Adams said he would resign as the British Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly member for Catholic West Belfast, his lifetime power base.

“I have asked people to make a stand. I believe that it is my duty at this critical time to step forward and do what I have asked of others,” he told supporters beside a memorial to five Irish Republican Army members who accidentally blew themselves up in 1957.

Mr. Cowen, who since 2008 has overseen Ireland’s rapid demise from Celtic Tiger to European deficit leader, has only a three-vote majority in Dail Eireann, Ireland’s parliament.

His Fianna Fail party expects to lose a Nov. 25 by-election to Sinn Fein, cutting its majority to two.

ITALY

Berlusconi clings on in coalition dispute

ROME | Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi managed to stay in power ahead of the expected resignation of four of his ministers on Monday in a battle between rival factions of his coalition.

Mr. Berlusconi voiced defiance on Sunday against the rebellion of his former ally Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of parliament, saying he would win elections without him even if he lost a confidence vote in the lower house of parliament.

“The voters are there and they are 60 percent in favor of Silvio Berlusconi,” the prime minister told a conference of supporters in Milan.

He acknowledged, however, that he could lose a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament, which is planned for later in the year.

Mr. Fini called Nov. 7 on Mr. Berlusconi to step down and negotiate a center-right coalition. Italo Bocchino, a spokesman for Mr. Fini, said Italy should not be put through “yet another election campaign.”

Analysts said the withdrawals of a minister, a deputy minister and two junior ministers loyal to Mr. Fini from the government were set to deal a further blow to Mr. Berlusconi but would not be a final knockout for his government.

Italy’s main political forces agreed this weekend that parliament would not call any confidence vote until after lawmakers approve a budget for 2011 at a tricky time for heavily indebted Italy on international financial markets.

SPAIN

Prime minister defends papal-criticized reforms

MADRID | Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero defended Sunday his liberal social reforms that have angered the Vatican, a week after he skipped a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Barcelona.

During his homily at the city’s iconic Sagraga Familia church on Nov. 7, the 83-year-old pope railed against same-sex marriage and divorce, saying families are built on the “indissoluble love of a man and a woman.”

Mr. Zapatero, whose socialist government has allowed gay marriage, eased access to abortion and expedited divorces, had never been scheduled to attend the service.

The prime minister was on a surprise visit to Afghanistan when the pope arrived in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain on Nov. 6.

He met with Benedict for about 10 minutes at Barcelona airport just before the pope departed for Rome at the end of his visit.

GERMANY

Germany renews bid for Security Council

BERLIN | Germany again pitched on Sunday its appeal for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, after Washington’s backing of Asian heavyweights India and Japan for such posts.

“Germany is also ready to take on more responsibility,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement.

Elected last month as a nonpermanent Security Council member, Berlin has long lobbied for permanent status.

“I hope the efforts to reform the Security Council will benefit from a new impetus with the recent declarations of President Obama in India and Japan,” Mr. Westerwelle said.

The main decision-making body of the United Nations, the Security Council has 15 members of which the five with permanent seats - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - have veto rights.


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