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Europe

Berlusconi survives vote of confidence

After a speech calling for national unity in Italy, former allies of Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi pledged their support, allowing him to win a vote of confidence in Italy's lower house of parliament.

Silvio Berlusconi

Berlusconi won the vote thanks to some former allies

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a vote of confidence in Italy's lower house of parliament on Wednesday. His coalition government appeared to be in danger of collapse ahead of the vote, but with the victory Berlusconi can remain in office. His term expires in 2013.

Berlusconi has been without a parliamentary majority amid political infighting. But ahead of Wednesday's confidence vote, a group that broke away form Berlusconi's ruling coalition in July said they would support the government. This made it unlikely that Berlusconi would lose the vote and be forced to step down.

Gianfranco Fini

Fini's supporters stood by Burlusconi for the vote

"We will not neglect our duty, we want to carry on till the end of the parliamentary term," said Italo Bocchino, parliamentary leader of the breakaway group, which is headed by Burlosconi's fomer ally Gianfranco Fini.

Critical speech

Earlier on Wednesday, Berlusconi delivered a speech to parliament calling for national unity. He also outlined a five-point plan, which included widespread tax cuts, aimed at drumming up support for his government.

"It is absolutely in the interests of our country not to risk a period of instability in this moment where the crisis is not yet over," said Berlusconi.

In the confidence vote, Berlusconi's center-right government received 342 votes for and 275 against, with three abstentions.

Author: Matt Zuvela (Reuters, AFP, AP)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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