Ber­lus­coni warns of cri­sis ahead of cru­cial vote

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

ROME: Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Silvio Ber­lus­coni warned mem­bers of par­lia­ment they risked plung­ing Italy into the mid­dle of the euro zone's debt cri­sis if they vote against him in a no-con­fi­dence vote due on Tues­day.

Speak­ing in par­lia­ment a day be­fore a show­down that could force him from of­fice and trig­ger early elec­tions, Ber­lus­coni said his govern­ment had kept Italy out of the cri­sis but that the threat of in­sta­bil­ity re­mained.

"It is mad­ness to ini­ti­ate a cri­sis with­out any fore­see­able so­lu­tions," he said in a speech to the Se­nate.

The govern­ment can be as­sured of a ma­jor­ity for a con­fi­dence mo­tion it has called in the Se­nate.

But the out­look in the lower house, where the op­po­si­tion has brought its own no­con­fi­dence mo­tion on the same day, is less cer­tain and could be de­cided by one or two votes. Some com­men­ta­tors es­ti­mate a re­sult as close as 314 votes for Ber­lus­coni against 313 for the com­bined op­po­si­tion is pos­si­ble.

The prime min­is­ter can no longer count on a lower house ma­jor­ity fol­low­ing a split in July with for­mer ally Gian­franco Fini and a group of sup­port­ers who broke away from the rul­ing PDL party and formed a cen­ter-right group of their own.

But the re­sult of Tues­day's vote is finely bal­anced af­ter days of in­tense lob­by­ing to per­suade wa­ver­ing rebel deputies to sup­port the govern­ment.

Ber­lus­coni said on Mon­day if he de­feated the no­con­fi­dence mo­tion, he would open up his govern­ment to other forces from the cen­ter and cen­ter-right, in an ap­peal to so-called "doves" in the rebel camp not to bring the govern­ment down.

Ber­lus­coni's lead­er­ship cre­den­tials have been un­der­mined this year by scan­dals that forced three mem­bers of the govern­ment to re­sign, an up­roar over his fond­ness for par­ties and young women and a scan­dal over garbage col­lec­tion in Naples.

Speak­ing to re­porters ear­lier, the 74-year-old premier said he was con­fi­dent he had the num­bers to sur­vive the vote. "I am serene, op­ti­mistic and con­fi­dent as I al­ways am," he told re­porters as he went into a cabi­net meet­ing that will sign off on the Se­nate con­fi­dence mo­tion. -Reuters

WACONIA: Amid a bliz­zard, hos­pi­tal ex­ec­u­tive Robert Stevens of Waconia, Minn. , poses for a photo from the roof of an Ex­cel­sior, Minn. , cof­fee shop, where he was sta­tioned to raise money for his daugh­ter's school. -Ap

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