Rome: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Sunday warned he would call early elections if recalcitrant members of his centre-right coalition did not loyally support the government.
"We`re moving ahead, convinced of the loyalty accorded to us by" lawmakers who are part of a new faction founded by Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament.
Berlusconi survived a confidence vote Wednesday by 342 votes to 275.
But he would not have scrapped together the 309 votes needed for a majority in the lower house if not for the support of 34 deputies in Fini`s Future and Freedom group.
"We will test that loyalty every day and if it is not proven by actions, then we will immediately return to the Italian people to seek once again their support," said Berlusconi.
A longtime Berlusconi ally, Fini, pulled out of the ruling People of Freedom coalition in July, triggering a government crisis.
Berlusconi was forced to seek a confidence vote on a renewed government programme until regular elections due in 2013.
"The lawmakers who formed the new group demonstrated their confidence and we would like to believe their support for implementing our government programme," he said.
Italian commentators said Wednesday`s vote emphasised the extent to which Berlusconi`s People of Freedom coalition will now have to rely on Fini for its parliamentary majority in the remaining three years of his term.