The stage is set in the Italian Senate for a day of drama in the latest political crisis to engulf the country.
Will the coalition government fall when Prime Minister Enrico Letta calls for a much anticipated vote of confidence?
Letta could be saved from an unexpected quarter – Angelino Alfano – the number two in the centre-right People of Freedom Party, is leading a revolt against his leader, Silvio Berlusconi.
“Berlusconi now is completely fighting for his own interests in order not to be expelled from parliament,” said political analyst Francesco Anghelone. “But some of his ministers, especially the young such as Deputy Prime Minister Angelino Alfano are opposed to Berlusconi’s actions. Alfano worries that voter disagreement with Berlusconi’s opinion may result in the PDL’s failure in elections.”
Late on Tuesday night Berlusconi is said to have insisted Alfano and the PLD toe the line and vote against the government – will the moderates obey?
Berlusconi’s order last week to his five ministers to quit Letta’s coalition precipitated this crisis. But today’s vote could prove to be a watershed for the media tycoon.