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Berlusconi wins first round of parliament by a slim margin

[ 2010-12-15 13:46]     字号 [] [] []  
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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a confidence motion in the Senate as expected on Tuesday, ahead of a lower house vote that could force him to resign or leave him clinging on to a wafer-thin majority.

The center-right government's secure majority in the upper house meant there was little doubt about the vote on a confidence motion it had called itself to underline its legitimacy. The government won by 162 votes to 135.

Shares in media company Mediaset, controlled by Berlusconi's family, recovered ground and turned positive after the initial vote.

But the result was just the first round in a showdown that will climax with a no-confidence vote in the lower house expected in the afternoon.

After a year overshadowed by corruption and sex scandals and an acrimonious split with former ally Gianfranco Fini that cost him a secure parliamentary majority, a day of reckoning has arrived for Berlusconi after two and a half years in power.

The 74-year-old media tycoon has repeatedly defied the skeptics, shrugging off a string of gaffes and scandals to win three elections and transform Italy's political landscape since gaining power for the first time in 1994.

If he loses in the lower house, he will have to resign, leaving President Giorgio Napolitano to name a new government or call elections more than two years before they are due in 2013.

After a fevered campaign of back room deals, in which opposition accusations of vote-buying and corruption have been answered by fierce denials and counter-accusations of treachery, many commentators estimate the government may just have the numbers to scrape through.

Berlusconi exuded his trademark confidence before the lower house vote.

Asked if he would win, he told reporters: "Yes, I think so."

There are 630 deputies in the lower house and Berlusconi in theory needs 316 votes to be sure of victory. But the real number may be smaller due to abstentions or the absence of a heavily pregnant member of the opposition Democratic Party.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Berlusconi wins first round of parliament by a slim margin

About the broadcaster:

Berlusconi wins first round of parliament by a slim margin

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.