By Paolo Biondi
ROME (Reuters) - The secretary of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party said on Friday it was time that Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's term in office came to an end but that his party would not trigger a disorderly crisis.
People of Freedom (PDL) secretary Angelino Alfano told parliament that the party's withdrawal of support from Monti in two confidence votes on Thursday had shown its disapproval without creating turmoil by bringing down the government.
"Yesterday we did not give a vote of no confidence because we consider the experience of the Monti government has come to an end but we don't want to send the institutions and the country into chaos," Alfano said.
After several weeks of relative calm, which saw Rome's borrowing costs come down steadily, financial markets have once again been ruffled by Italy's political troubles.
The spread or difference between yields on Italian 10-year bonds and German counterparts that are considered less risky widened to 326 basis points on Friday, having dipped below 300 points earlier in the week.
Alfano met President Giorgio Napolitano earlier on Friday to discuss the crisis but he made no direct comment on the substance of the discussion.
Napolitano, who is responsible for calling an election which must take place no later than April, said on Thursday that he did not intend to allow Monti's term to end in chaos and would ensure the stability of Italy's institutions.
Former PDL minister Altero Matteoli said party officials were now talking about a possible election date on March 10 but there was no official confirmation.
In a sign that tensions had calmed after a dramatic day in parliament on Thursday, Monti left Rome for Milan where he is due to attend an opera later on Friday.
He is due to attend a performance of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin at La Scala but would not have left Rome if the crisis facing the government were expected to worsen significantly before the weekend, officials said.
The abstention in parliament by the PDL opened a crisis a few months before elections due early next year and the party is now expected to campaign openly against the austerity policies followed by Monti to control Italy's huge public debt.
Berlusconi is expected to lead the party in next year's election campaign on a platform attacking Monti's austerity policies after he accused the former European Commissioner on Wednesday of dragging Italy "to the brink of a precipice".
Two opinion polls published on Friday showed that the centre-left Democratic Party had increased its lead over political rivals.
(Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Stephen Powell)
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