Berlusconi bites back as confidence vote looms

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Berlusconi bites back as confidence vote looms

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Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi have taken to the streets across Italy to back their embattled prime minister.

The billionaire is quagmired in a series of sex scandals and a rubbish crisis in Naples.

He now faces a knife-edge confidence vote on Tuesday after former ally, Gianfranco Fini, led a walkout of 40 members of his party.

Berlusconi spoke to supporters by video link:

“Those who don’t respect the mandate of the electorate proves they don’t have the interests of Italy at heart only their own miserable career ambitions.”

If the prime minister loses Tuesday’s vote, he would be forced to resign, a step which could prompt President Giorgio Napolitano to call early elections.

“The fact is this, Italy has spent too long in a state of tension in its politics and institutions and in the public interest it must stop,” he said.

On Saturday thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Rome and mocked the 74-year-olds alleged taste for parties and prostitutes.