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Berlusconi helps chief political foe

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 7:36 p.m.

ROME — Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, booted out of Parliament last year after his tax fraud conviction, met on Saturday with his chief political foe, the leader of the main government coalition party, and agreed to back reforms to finally make Italy more governable.

Someone pelted Berlusconi's chauffeured sedan with an egg and some catcalls went up as he was driven into the Rome headquarters of the Democratic Party, the political heirs of Italian communists that the media mogul has spent decades loathing. Matteo Renzi, the brash new head of Premier Enrico Letta's Democratic Party, defied critics in his own ranks to court the media mogul in what turned out to be a successful gambit for a pledge of support.

Berlusconi,77, promised that his center-right Forza Italia party would back legislation to change the electoral system, a reform which has been bogged down for years by squabbling across Italy's fractious political spectrum and perpetuating a legacy of largely unstable governments.

Berlusconi said he will work for reforms that “will favor governability, a two-bloc system and eliminate the blackmail power of the tinier parties” in Parliament, Renzi told reporters after the more than two-hour meeting before rushing to catch a train back to Florence, where he is mayor.

After the Democratic Party, Forza Italia is Italy's No. 2 party. Although Berlusconi lost his Senate seat in November because of the conviction, the media mogul still leads Forza Italia, his creation. He insists he can make a political comeback despite his travails.

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