Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's main coalition partner said Thursday that a letter of recommendations from the European Central Bank was part of "an attempt to bring down the government."
The letter, details of which were revealed by the Corriere della Sera daily on Monday, was signed by ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet and Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi -- who is set to succeed Trichet later this year.
"I fear that letter was put together in Rome," Umberto Bossi, a government minister and head of the populist Northern League party, told reporters. "I fear there is an attempt to bring down the government," he added.
The ECB began unprecedented massive purchases of Italian and Spanish government bonds this week to prop up their crisis-hit debt markets and sent Italy a letter with a series of tough economic policy demands in return.
Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti said the letter called for a reform of the pensions system, an acceleration of austerity measures, a cut in public sector salaries and a reform of labour legislation to make firings easier.
The ECB intervention brought down sharply borrowing costs for both Italy and Spain, the two countries seen as most at risk of following Greece, Ireland and Portugal and needing an international debt bailout.