It was a happy birthday for Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi as he survived a parliamentary confidence motion that could have seen his government collapse.
The 74-year-old sailed through the vote after rebel members of his coalition, loyal to Gianfranco Fini, the premier’s former ally turned arch-rival, fell into line.
Berlusconi won them round with details of a new policy programme he hopes will allow him to serve the rest of his term until 2013. A similar vote in the Senate should pass without problems today.
But the crisis rattling Italy’s ruling centre-right is far from over. There are no guarantees that the dissident deputies will play ball in the future. Berlusconi’s split with Fini in July left him without a secure parliamentary majority.