Italy′s Berlusconi braced for no-confidence vote | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 14.12.2010
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Italy's Berlusconi braced for no-confidence vote

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing a no-confidence vote in both chambers of parliament on Tuesday that could see his government fall and early elections called.

Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi

Berlusconi is determined to fight for political survival

It could be make or break for the government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as he braces himself for a no-confidence vote both in the upper and lower houses of parliament on Tuesday.

The vote follows a split between Berlusconi's ruling coalition and rebel deputies led by ex-ally Gianfranco Fini in July. If he loses either vote, he will be forced to offer his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano, who will then decide whether an alternative center-right majority can be formed.

Shattered reputation

While Berlusconi insists that Italians still adore him, reality is proving different. With a slew of sex scandals, a paralyzed economy, nationwide protests and his own loyal backers turning against him, his base of support has eroded.

Despite feverish negotiations and backroom deals with rumors of cash or jobs in exchange for support, most predict the leader won't make it through the key vote, but analysts say he is determined to fight for survival.

Posters making fun of Berlusconi

The prime minister has been the butt of jokes after a slew of sex scandals

"His demand of the party and those close to him is complete, utter and blind loyalty," longtime Italy commentator Christopher Winner told Deutsche Welle.

"He's attacking strongly, making it seem like he's been unjustly challenged, and by appearing strong and unwavering, he hopes to survive what amounts to a mutiny," he added.

Allegations of corruption

Mutiny is not Berlusconi's only problem. Italy's high court is poised to rule on whether a law Berlusconi had passed to protect himself from prosecution while prime minister is constitutional. If struck down, he will immediately face charges for corrupting a judge.

Antonio Di Pietro is the former judge renowned for prosecuting corrupt businessmen and politicians in the Clean Hands investigations of the early 1990s. Now an opposition politician, Di Pietro says Berlusconi's whole political career is tied to his business problems.

"Berlusconi entered politics as a legal strategy," he said. "He went into politics to change the laws he was breaking. So if his sole reason to go into politics was to change the laws to get him off corruption charges, it's easy to understand why he's been bad for the country."

More and more Italians appear to agree with Di Pietro. Latest polls show that fewer than 30 percent of Italians want Berlusconi to finish his current term.

Politicians opposing him would like to put together short-term coalition government with someone else at the helm. But Berlusconi is threatening to call an election if he loses the no-confidence vote - something most Italians do not want.

Author: Megan Williams, Rome/ng
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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