Berlusconi to Secure Broader Majority in Key Vote, Frattini Says

Franco Frattini, Italy's foreign minister
Franco Frattini, Italy's foreign minister, speaks with colleagues at NATO headquarters in Brussels in this file photo. Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will win confidence votes next month that threaten to topple his government after securing a broader majority in parliament, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

“I am confident that we will expand the ruling majority,” Frattini said today in an interview in Dubai, where he is attending a conference on foreign investments in Afghanistan. “I am confident that the result of the vote will be positive.”

The government will win the Dec. 14 votes in the two branches of parliament by a “broad margin,” Berlusconi told reporters after a Nov. 26 cabinet meeting. He also called on Gianfranco Fini, his former ally who is now leading the challenge to Berlusconi’s rule, to “take a step back” before trying to topple the government at a time when investors are shunning the debt of Europe’s high-deficit nations.

Italy, the Euro region’s second most-indebted country after Greece, is facing surging borrowing costs as Europe’s debt crisis spreads. The premium investors demand to hold Italian 10-year bonds over equivalent German debt rose 20 basis points to a euro-era record 209 as of 9:50 a.m. in Rome.

The export-led recovery in the $2.3 trillion economy slowed in the third quarter as the global economic rebound eased and foreign demand for its goods and services fell. Gross domestic product rose 0.2 percent in the three months through September, down from 0.5 percent in the second quarter.

“Italy’s economy is strong, it’s positive in 2010, positive in 2011 and 2012 because our economy is thriving on small and medium-sized businesses,” Frattini said today. “Also, our banking system is strong.”

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