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Italian opposition steps up in no-confidence motion on Berlusconi

Things keep getting worse for Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as he he faces another no-confidence vote in parliament. Signs of waning support by former loyalists could mean his days in office are numbered.

Silvio Berlusconi

There is no date yet set for Berlusconi's confidence vote

Italy's largest opposition party has stepped up in its promise to seek a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, setting the scene for a fight in parliament that could end the 74-year-old media mogul's political career.

The opposition Democratic Party, led by Dario Franceschini, submitted the no-confidence motion Friday in the lower Chamber of Deputies with the support of the allied Italy of Values party. The date of the vote has not yet been set.

"Berlusconi's days are numbered," said Italy of Values politician Leoluca Orlando. "Soon Italy will free itself from a cancer that has destroyed its national economy, covered it with filth and thrown its moral value into the dirt."

Berlusconi's ally-turned-rival and speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, who recently created his own Future and Freedom for Italy party, called on the prime minister to resign at a party conference on Sunday.

Gianfranco Fini

Fini will be key when the confidence vote comes

Berlusconi has repeatedly refused to leave office unless he loses a no-confidence vote, despite a number of sex scandals that have caused his popularity to sink to an all-time low.

Ministers to resign

Intensifying Berlusconi's political troubles, Italian media reported on Friday that four government ministers loyal to Fini would submit their resignations to the prime minister next week.

Italo Bocchino, spokesman for Future and Freedom for Italy, repeated Fini's calls for the prime minister to resign.

"On Monday Berlusconi will find on his desk the resignation papers of our ministers," he said on a news program. "He should take note and resign."

Balance of power

Such resignations would leave Berlusconi without sufficient support, Bocchino added, meaning the prime minister would ultimately have to ask Italian President Giorgio Napolitano for his resignation as well. This would not be obligatory, but the resignations would at least force a reshuffle of Berlusconi's cabinet.

Berlusconi survived a confidence vote in September with the support of Fini's party, which appears to hold the balance of power ahead of the upcoming vote. In a sign of waning loyalty for the prime minister, Fini loyalists withheld support on an immigration bill sponsored by the government earlier in the week.

The current parliament's mandate expires in 2013, but losing the confidence vote could bring about snap parliamentary elections.

Parliament is still obligated to pass the 2011 budget law by year's end, which may force the confidence vote to be delayed.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Kyle James

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