Italy's Silvio Berlusconi wins confidence vote


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives for a legal hearing over allegations of fiscal fraud and breach of trust in his business interests on March 28, 2011 at Milan's court.


Giuseppe Cacace

Silvio Berlusconi, the scandal-wracked Italian prime minister, won a confidence vote in Italy's parliament on Friday.

Berlusconi and his ruling center-right coalition won with 316 votes to 301, after warning the rival center-left that the country faced economic collapse if the government fell, Agence France-Presse reports

The vote is unlikely to end calls for the embattled Berlusconi to resign, AFP says. Berlusconi's popularity has dropped to 24 percent, according to a recent opinion poll.

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Berlusconi, 75, has faced a series of scandals in recent months. Among his most recent gaffes: making vulgar comments about his party, the PDL, which he suggested should be renamed with an Italian slang term for female genitalia.

He also reportedly called German Chancellor Angela Merkel an "unfuckable lard-arse" during a wiretapped conversation.

Berlusconi is on trial in four separate cases, accused of fraud, corruption, and paying for sex with a minor —  a voluptuous nightclub dancer nicknamed "Ruby the Heart Stealer" who was 17 at the time.

According to Reuters, analysts say vote of confidence only gives Berlusconi a temporary lifeline. Italy is expected to hold elections next spring, a year early.

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