ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER Silvio Berlusconi has narrowly survived motions of no confidence in the Italian houses of parliament, overcoming what had amounted to a major risk to his premiership.
The lower Chamber of Deputies gave the 74-old-year its backing by just three votes – 314 to 311, with two abstentions – after winning a Senate vote yesterday by a more comfortable margin, 162 to 135.
A loss in the lower house would have automatically put his government out of office, though it was possible that he could have remained at the helm as the leader of a newly reconfigured coalition.
Tensions in Rome had been high ahead of the crucial votes, with police forced to block access to the city centre as violent protests broke out in opposition to Berlusconi’s tenure.
Those tensions had spilled over into the parliament itself, where minor scuffles broke out as voting was taking place.
The outcome of the vote had hung in the balance until the very last moments; la Repubblica had predicted a 313-312 defeat for the premier, while Corriere della Sera said he would win by the same margin.
The narrow margin of victory does not secure Berlusconi’s tenure, however; the paltry margin of victory means that Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom party will struggle to pass legislation.