[QODLink]
Europe

Italy prime minister wins confidence vote

Former PM Berlusconi retracts previous statements about bringing down the government, as Letta wins confidence vote.

Last Modified: 02 Oct 2013 17:59
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Premier Enrico Letta has won a confidence vote in the Italian Senate after Silvio Berlusconi delivered an about-face and announced he would support the government.

With a few dozen votes still being counted, Letta had more than 230 "yes" votes in the 321-member Senate, far more than he needed to keep his 5 month old coalition alive.

Berlusconi said on Wednesday that having listened to Letta's speech promising tax cuts and economic and judicial reform, "we have decided, not without some internal strife, to support the government."

Italians are crying out that they cannot take any more blood in the arena

Enrico Letta, Italian PM

His words, greeted by widespread surprise, appear to put an end to the political crisis that began after Berlusconi ordered five of his ministers on Saturday to withdraw from the cabinet.

Several key figures from the People of Freedom party (PDL) had broken ranks with him after that move. A letter doing the rounds in the Senate just before Berlusconi spoke had 23 signatures of PDL senators willing to defy their leader, according to AFP news agency.

Together with votes from four rebels of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, this would have been sufficient for Letta to win a majority even without Berlusconi's support.

"Italians are crying out that they cannot take any more blood in the arena, with politicians who slit each other's throats and then nothing changes," said Letta.

Berlusconi had only on Tuesday rallied his supporters to vote against the government.

"Despite the risks, I have decided to put an end to the Letta government," Berlusconi had said in a letter to the Catholic magazine Tempi.

Tensions within the coalition have spiked since Italy's top court upheld a tax fraud conviction against Berlusconi in August, which could see him ejected from the Senate later this month and barred from taking part in the next elections.

329

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.