Italy’s Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi to Quit Post

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Silvio Berlusconi loyalist said he will step down because it's clear he does not have the support of most of the ruling coalition.


ROME -- Sandro Bondi, Italy's controversial minister of culture, reiterated on Wednesday his plans to quit his job, while lines are drawn in the Italian parliament among those who support the embattled ally of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and those who say that want him to go.

Bondi has been no stranger to headlines since taking office. In January, he survived a confidence vote in the 630-member lower house of parliament by just 22 votes. The vote took place after he was blamed for directing cultural funding away from the maintenance of historical properties and indirectly leading to the collapse of two walls at the archeological site of Pompeii.

But most of his notoriety has come from the cinema sector. Last year, for example, the minister criticized auteur and Venice Film Festival jury head Quentin Tarantino for the prizes the jury handed out and he said he believed the government should have the final say over the jury selection for the 67-year-old Venice festival.

And earlier, Bondi boycotted the Cannes and Locarno Film Festivals because they screened films critical of the government, and he said he would develop new criteria for determining which film projects where worthy of state funding, a move many in the industry said smacked of censorship.

This week, Bondi -- a long-time Berlusconi loyalist -- said he will "soon" step down because he says it is clear he does not have the support of most of the ruling coalition, making it difficult to do his job. He was not more specific about when he planned to leave his post.

Meanwhile, the Libero Quotidiano opined Wednesday that if Bondi does indeed leave, the government would likely have a hard time filling the post for a high-scrutiny position where the new minister would inherit a €230 million ($317 million) budget deficit.