The calls for Silvio Berlusconi’s head reached a fever pitch today, when Umberto Bossi, Berlusconi’s closest coalition ally, joined the chorus. “We asked the prime minister to stand down,” Bossi told reporters, in what Reuters thinks could be the decisive blow. Berlusconi faces a critical budget vote today that could expose how little support he has. Opposition lawmakers plan to let the budget pass but skip voting in protest—and at least five members of Berlusconi’s PDL are joining them.
Berlusconi will meet with at least one of those defectors today, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I want to look my traitors in the face,” he was quoted as saying. If the final vote today comes up with less than 310 backing the prime minister—and early estimates indicate it’ll be well below that—the pressure for him to resign will be immense, with a no-confidence vote likely this week. (Read more Silvio Berlusconi stories.)