Berlusconi ally issues ultimatum for his support

Premier Silvio Berlusconi's key political ally has issued an ultimatum to the embattled Italian leader, saying he has to respond if he wants to remain in power until the end of his term.

Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League, made his demands during the party's annual rally Sunday in its power base near Bergamo. The speech was eagerly anticipated since Berlusconi's political survival has been in question following two recent drubbings in local elections. Berlusconi now depends heavily on the League's support.

Bossi said Berlusconi's government could last until 2013 and warned that early elections would be a gift to the opposition. But he said Berlusconi must respond to the League's demands, including moving at least two ministries out of Rome to the north.