Reeling from schism, Berlusconi invites allies who split from his party to form moderate bloc

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is inviting defectors from his party to at least back his shrunken center-right power base to oppose his enemies on the left.

Abandoning his characteristic defiance after setbacks, the media mogul reached out Saturday to Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who broke ranks a day earlier to form his own "New Center-Right" party.

In his first public reaction Saturday, Berlusconi urged that Alfano's group join with his own forces to oppose their center-left rivals.

Berlusconi was addressing supporters of his recreated Forza Italia party, the name of the movement he founded 20 years ago to launch himself into politics.