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Italy

Berlusconi survives confidence vote ahead of weekend protests

© Reuters

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has won a crucial vote of confidence in parliament with a comfortable majority although the victory is unlikely to silence growing calls for him to resign. The ruling centre-right coalition won with 316 votes in favour and 301 against. 

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Ahead of the vote, Berlusconi warned there was no alternative to his government and said bids to remove him could further endanger Italy’s fragile position on nervous financial markets.

Berlusconi was forced to turn to parliament to confirm its support after the ruling coalition suffered a setback on Tuesday when it was unexpectedly defeated in a low-profile but important technical vote on the budget.

Berlusconi’s popularity is currently running at an all-time low. The flamboyant 75-year-old is embroiled in a number of scandals including criminal charges for allegedly having paid for sex last year with a nightcub dancer, then aged-17, called Ruby the Heart Stealer.

He has also been criticised for his handling of the economy and lacking concrete proposals to tackle Italy's most urgent problems such as high youth unemployment and weak growth.

Meanwhile, 200,000 protestors are expected to gather in Rome on Saturday for a rally inspired by the ‘Indignados’ anti-capitalist movement in Spain.

Seventy buses are set to bring people in from cities all over Italy.

Thea Valentina Guardelina will be joining the protests. She says she is worried about the state of Italy's education system.

"The government has cut down on education so much that the kids at school don't even have teachers to teach them," she says. "You know what it means when you reduce kids to not having an education, it means your're going to have them growing up ignorant."

Trade unions, student associations and anti-capitalist movements have all given their support for the rally and have called for a high turnout.
 

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