There has been high drama in Italian Senate.
Just as Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s coalition was due to face a crucial confidence vote, Silvio Berlusconi has performed a complete U-turn and declared his party’s support for the government.
The vote had been provoked after Berlusconi ordered his ministers out of the coalition.
Earlier Letta made an impassioned plea to Senators to pass the vote of confidence in his fragile left-right coalition.
He said the reforms being brought in were vitally important to the country and must be continued.
“Italy is running a risk which could be fatal. To overcome this risk depends on us, on the choice that we will make in saying yes or no,” he said.
Berlusconi’s about turn came after several leading figures in his party threatened to defy him and back the government.
Former Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi, who handed in their resignations on Berlusconi’s orders on Saturday, called on the PdL to back Letta in the Senate vote.
Critics had accused the media tycoon of putting his own interests before those of the country.
All this comes against a background of ongoing crisis in Italy, which is struggling to exit the longest recession in decades.