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Italian PM Berlusconi faces confidence vote

Italian PM Berlusconi faces confidence vote
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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is hoping to celebrate his 74th birthday today by winning a crucial confidence vote in parliament.

Berlusconi called the vote after months of feuding with speaker Gianfranco Fini, a former member of his governing coalition.

Polls show the premier’s popularity is on the slide, but he asked to be judged on policy alone.

Berlusconi called on “the more responsible forces of the opposition to evaluate our reform programme without any bias.”

The billionaire tycoon this morning outlined his proposed reforms, including changes to the justice system and handing more fiscal autonomy to Italy’s regions.

Once a Berlusconi loyalist, Fini spilt from the ruling People of Freedom party they created together in July, accusing the prime minister of corruption and running the government like one of his companies.

The confidence vote takes place at 7pm CET.

If Berlusconi loses, he will be forced to resign and new elections will be held.