Tags: berlusconi italy vote

Berlusconi's Fate Rests on Lawmaker Pregnancies

Monday, 13 Dec 2010 07:34 PM


Perhaps it's only fitting during this holiday season that a child about to be born could be the agent of Silvio Berlusconi's political salvation.

Italy's embattled prime minister faces a motion of no confidence in Parliament on Tuesday, and the count is so tight that if any one of three pregnant lawmakers who are expected to vote against him goes into labor beforehand, Berlusconi may survive by the skin of his teeth, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Battered by sex scandals and the desertion of onetime allies, the 74-year-old media tycoon tried to rally support Monday, telling lawmakers it would be foolish to bring down his government at a time when the Italian economy is trying to tiptoe its way through the crisis engulfing the euro.

Italy is dealing with one of the highest levels of public debt of any European country, and economic growth has been sluggish, but the government's austerity plan has won at least initial praise from international investors.

"The last thing Italy needs is a political crisis," Berlusconi warned in a speech before the Senate. A thumbs-up vote for his government, he said, would be a vote for "stability, efficiency, cooperation, decision-making capacity … a choice dictated by realism and political wisdom."

To a large extent, however, he was preaching to the choir: His ruling coalition enjoys a comfortable majority in the upper chamber, which is expected to reaffirm its support for him.

It's the vote in the 630-seat lower chamber that counts, and there the tally is too close to call. In July, Berlusconi's closest ally, Gianfranco Fini, broke away from the prime minister's center-right People of Freedom party, depriving him of a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and precipitating Tuesday's censure motion.

Italian media and political analysts have been speculating feverishly over potential outcomes, many of which envision victory or defeat by a single vote.

Read the entire story at latimes.com

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