Italy

Berlusconi survives confidence vote

Reuters/Remo Casilli

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi survived a confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday. He won with a small majority, as 314 lawmakers voted in his favour with 311 against and two abstentions in the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies lower house.

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His government earlier won a comfortable majority in the Senate.

The vote followed debates in both chambers of parliament. A fight broke out between some supporters and opponents of the prime minister in the minutes before the announcement of the result in the lower house.

The prime minister still has more to do to secure his power, according to Luca Verzichelli, political science professor at the University of Siena. He says Berlusconi may try to convince Catholic MPs from the centrist opposition to support his government.

"In this case, Berlusconi could continue with the same cabinet, maybe with a little reshuffle," says Verzichelli. "It would be the first time in the republic's history that the same leader with the same cabinet can resist the natural term of five years of a legislature."

Luca Verzichelli, University of Siena

Berlusconi earlier voiced confidence in a victorious outcome as he arrived in parliament and said he "absolutely excluded" his resignation, demanded by former allies from his centre-right coalition who rebelled against him.

Tens of thousands of anti-Berlusconi protesters marched through Italy's biggest cities. Police fired teargas as protesters in Rome set off smoke flares and threw bottles and firecrackers.

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