Berlusconi survives confidence vote, avoids early elections in Italy

09:24, September 30, 2010      

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The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi survived on Wednesday a tough confidence vote in parliament aimed at securing a stable majority and thus avoided a government crisis that would inevitably lead to early elections.

The Chamber of Deputies confirmed the confidence to the premier with 342 yes votes while 275 MPs refused to back the speech Berlusconi made in the morning where he outlined the 5-points strategic document.

Berlusconi decided to put a confidence vote on the document in order to test his governing majority after the summer rift with his former ally, House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, and his team of " dissidents" who decided to form a new group called Future and Freedom.

Of the 620 total deputies, 617 were present for the much- awaited parliamentary event. The premier succeeded in obtaining the vote of his former allies now belonging to the Future and Freedom group (only 2 out of 35 voted against).

Other than the leading opposition Democratic Party, several centrist groups, who initially were thought to support Berlusconi, voted against his speech.

It was indeed a good result for Italy's ruling People of Freedom Party: the government secured seven votes more than on the day it took office in May 2008. Berlusconi's coalition thus survived a political crisis and avoided the risk of an early vote after a long summer of political contrasts and media-driven attacks with his former allies.

The document outlined by Berlusconi contained the 5 top priorities of the government's action for the upcoming years: the reform of justice (including a cap on long trials), more safety, tax cuts, federalism and stronger policies for the poorer south ( new strategic infrastructures such as the Messina Straits' bridge).

Appealing to all "moderates," Berlusconi urged the need to " recover national cohesion" and revamp the legislature.

"It is in the absolute interest of our country not to risk, in a period of global economic instability, a crisis," he said, adding that there was no alternative to his government and that each MP's duty was to respect the initial will of the Italian voters and thus pull through till the end of the legislature.

On the split with Fini, the premier confessed he was "sorry" and that "discussion had gone beyond the limits," pointing his finger at the excessive "hatred" in Italian politics.

Source: Xinhua


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