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

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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.