Italian PM Enrico Letta won a Senate confidence vote Wednesday, hours after Silvio Berlusconi reversed position and vowed to support the government. Berlusconi's reversal came after key allies withdrew support for his bid to topple Letta's coalition.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta won a confidence vote in the Italian Senate Wednesday after former premier Silvio Berlusconi reversed position and announced he would support the government.
Letta, who had been tipped to win with just a handful of votes just minutes before Berlusconi's U-turn, ended up sweeping the vote with a crushing majority of 235 senators in favour and 70 against.
Berlusconi acknowledged defeat earlier Wednesday and said he would support Letta, a day after multiple defections in his party robbed him of the backing he needed to bring down the coalition government.
“Italy needs a government that can produce structural and institutional reforms that the country needs to modernise," Berlusconi said in brief remarks before the vote. "We have decided, not without internal strife, to vote for confidence.”
Berlusconi said he changed his mind after hearing Letta's promise to lower taxes and be mindful of the need for reform.
The former prime minister had previously demanded his five Cabinet ministers quit the government in a bid to topple the Letta coalition.
Some analysts saw Berlusconi's defeat this week as heralding a loosening of the tight grip he once had on the People of Freedom Party.
"I think we are seeing the final chapter of Berlusconi's political life," Giacomo Marramao, a politics professor at Roma Tre university, told AFP after the parliamentary vote.
"The result is less credibility, a decline in credibility," Marramao said, citing new divisions within the once fiercely loyal centre-right party.
"A post-Berlusconi party was born today," he said.
A separate vote planned for Friday could strip Berlusconi of his Senate seat following his conviction for tax fraud, which included a four-year prison sentence.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-10-02