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Italy: Berlusconi stuns Senate with U-turn ensuring Letta's survival

Italy: Berlusconi stuns Senate with U-turn ensuring Letta's survival
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Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has won a confidence vote in the Senate, the country’s upper house of parliament. A hefty majority of Senators, 235 out of 307, came out in support of his government.

Speaking a little later in the lower house of parliament, Letta said: “This has been a historic day for our democracy. We have now achieved more of the necessary conditions for our work – to allow us to look to the future with greater clarity.”

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi delivered quite a show ahead of the Senate vote. In a dramatic U-turn Berlusconi, who only a few days ago was threatening to topple the government, gave Letta his backing. He was seen holding his head in his hands and looked to be fighting back tears.

Berlusconi’s about-turn came after senior members of his People of Freedom (PDL) party, including his deputy Angelino Alfano, had said they would break from him to support the government.

A confidence vote is also due to take place in the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. Letta’s coalition government has a strong majority there.

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