Italy

Berlusconi seeks to woo Senate ahead of crucial vote

Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

On the eve of a crucial confidence vote in parliament, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday moved to strike a deal with his opponents, warning that ousting him would be "political folly".

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"I want to reconstitute the alliance of all the moderate forces that were at the origin of our political engagement," Berlusconi said in a speech to the Senate.

Berlusconi faces a tight vote in the lower house of parliament that could see his government collapse.

He offered a "legislative pact" with the opposition Union of the Centre (UDC) party and the allies of parliament speaker Gianfranco Fini, whose break with the ruling coalition led to the impasse.

"I ask you... to reflect on the political folly that opening a crisis without visible and credible solutions would be today," Berlusconi said.

"Our country is being shaken by serious tensions that concern the heart of the economic system - the financial credibility of the state," he added.

"The prospects for stability and the hopes for growth of the economic and financial system depend on the confidence votes."

There will be confidence votes in the both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies Tuesday morning, but the attention is mainly on the vote in the lower house, where
Berlusconi's support is seen as weaker.

If he loses the vote, Berlusconi will be forced to offer his resignation.

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