Rome: Italy`s Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi said on Thursday his victory in a parliamentary vote of
confidence had strengthened his centre-right coalition, but
doubts remain over the intentions of a key former ally.
"The majority is stronger. The chamber (of deputies,
lower house) has approved the vote of confidence with a
broader and more pronounced majority than in 2008. That`s what
counts, not confused electoral calculations," Berlusconi said
in a speech to the Senate the morning after the vote.
Berlusconi, whose coalition was rocked in July when
longtime ally Gianfranco Fini walked out of the government,
comfortably won the vote of confidence by 342 votes to 275,
when Fini`s 34 dissidents lent their support.
However, it was clear today that Berlusconi, who just
weeks ago held a comfortable majority in parliament, faced a
changed political landscape.
Italian commentators pointed out that the vote emphasised
the extent to which Berlusconi`s People of Freedom coalition
will now have to rely on Fini to reach a majority, 309 votes,
in this and any future vote over the remaining three years of
Fini MP Carmelo Briguglio drove home the point early
today saying that without the support of the lower house
speaker`s new Future and Freedom group, "the government
wouldn`t exist any more".
Berlusconi`s straight-talking stalwart ally, Umberto
Bossi, head of the right wing Northern League, grudgingly