Italy's Berlusconi wins confidence votes

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 14, 2010 15:53

ROME — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi won back-to-back votes of confidence in the Italian parliament Tuesday, but he was left with a razor-thin majority that will make it hard for him to govern effectively.

In the second and most dramatic of the tests, Berlusconi survived a no-confidence motion in the lower house by just three votes. The tense session was briefly interrupted as lawmakers pushed and shoved each other, while outside parliament protesters hurling firecrackers, eggs and paint scuffled with police.

Earlier in the day, Berlusconi had secured a more comfortable victory in a confidence vote at the Senate.

The votes were called following a spate of sex scandals and a breakup with one-time close ally Gianfranco Fini, who had urged Berlusconi to resign and had hoped to bring him down through the no-confidence motion.

The outcome then marked a victory for Berlusconi over the man who had become his most bitter rival. By contrast, it dealt a blow to Fini's ambitions to replace Berlusconi as conservative leader, at least in the short term.


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