Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday relaunched his People of Freedom (PDL) party under its old name, Forza Italia (Go Italy).
“I am happy that we have returned to this name, the one we all still have in our hearts: Forza Italia,” the political leader said at a party conference in Rome before around 800 delegates.
Earlier, members of the PDL announced their intention to split off and form a new party.
PDL deputy leader Angelino Alfano was quoted by the Ansa news agency as saying he and a group of PDL parliamentarians loyal to him would not attend a Saturday party conference, at which Mr. Berlusconi announced his decision to return the party to its previous name.
Earlier in the week, Mr. Berlusconi vowed in a published interview that he would not bow out of politics even if he were to be kicked out of parliament because of a tax fraud conviction.
Mr. Berlusconi’s ouster is seen as likely because the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the PDL’s main coalition partner, has no intention of letting the scandal-prone politician keep his parliamentary seat.
Despite urgings by Mr. Alfano to continue supporting the grand coalition government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Mr. Berlusconi said he would not accept his own “political assassination”.
The Alfano splinter party is to be called Nuovo centrodestra (New Centre Right) and is composed of between 56 and 60 parliamentarians.
Assuming this group backed Mr. Letta, it would be large enough to ensure the survival of the Prime Minister’s government.