Berlusconi Faces a No-Confidence Vote

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at Farnesina Palace in Rome, July 28, 2010.

From Elizabetta Povoledo, the New York Times:  The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will face a no-confidence motion Wednesday because of the investigation of a Justice Ministry official implicated in an influence-peddling scandal.

The center-right government is expected to survive the vote even though it lost its absolute majority in the lower house last week after the speaker, Gianfranco Fini, and 33 supporters split from the prime minister’s coalition.

Mr. Fini’s supporters were expected to decide Tuesday evening to abstain from the vote, along with members of a centrist opposition party and a handful of other lawmakers. But even though an immediate showdown between Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Fini’s rebel lawmakers seems to have been averted, political tensions remain high and early elections — the government’s mandate is set to end in 2013 — loom on the horizon as an increasingly possible scenario.

Once a staunch ally of Mr. Berlusconi and co-founder of the People of Liberty party, Mr. Fini has gradually distanced himself from the prime minister and his personality-driven leadership style. Mr. Fini was expelled from the party last week. At a news conference Friday, he criticized Mr. Berlusconi for “having not exactly a liberal concept of democracy” and for governing with the “business logic” of a chief executive “which has nothing to do with our democratic institutions.”  (photo: Getty)

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