Berlusconi Narrowly Survives Confidence Vote

Thin margin of success leaves questions about effectiveness
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2011 9:19 AM CDT
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi jokes with lawmakers during a confidence vote, in Rome, Friday, Oct. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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(Newser) – Silvio Berlusconi squeaked through a confidence vote in the Italian parliament today, but the agonizingly close 316-301 vote didn’t exactly inspire, well, confidence. Berlusconi’s majority is so slim that it effectively cannot pass legislation, the New York Times reports, and analysts say that the slightest bump in the road could break the fragile coalition entirely. Berlusconi called the vote himself after failing a routine vote this week and refusing calls to step down.

Berlusconi survived thanks to loyalists afraid his government would be replaced by a non-political technocratic one seeking structural changes to Italy’s economy—a government they’d have no place in. Of course, many business leaders were hoping for exactly that. “The best signal that Italy could have sent to the markets would have been to boot Mr. Berlusconi out, but it has failed to do so,” one economic think tank director tells the AP. Opponents, meanwhile, complained that Berlusconi can win confidence votes, but cannot govern. “He only knows how to stay stuck in his seat using tricks,” one opposition leader complained.

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