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Berlusconi May Lose Lower House Confidence Vote, Ex-Ally Says

A former ally of Silvio Berlusconi said the Italian prime minister can no longer rely on a parliamentary majority as there are enough votes in the lower house to topple him.

Italo Bocchino, secretary of the Future and Liberty for Italy party formed by Speaker of the Chamber Gianfranco Fini, said 317 of the 630-member representative body may vote against Berlusconi in a confidence vote planned on Dec. 14. Bocchino’s comments, first reported by news agency Ansa, were confirmed today by his spokesman Gianmario Mariniello.

Members of Future and Liberty decided today to lodge a joint motion of no-confidence together with centrist groups at the lower chamber. The main opposition Democratic Party and Italy of Values have already presented their motion. Berlusconi, 74, may have enough backing in the upper house, the Senate, to survive the vote and early elections are not a certainty even if the government falls.

President Giorgio Napolitano would first consult the parties to see if another government may be formed with or without Berlusconi as its head, before calling for a vote.

Tensions between Berlusconi and Fini, who co-founded the premier’s People of Liberty party in 2008, peaked as four members of Liberty for Italy stepped down from the government last month in a move designed to bring down the administration. On Nov. 7, Fini called for Berlusconi’s resignation.

This month’s confidence vote may coincide with an Italian Constitutional Court decision set for Dec. 14 on the validity of a law passed by the government granting Berlusconi and other top officials immunity from prosecution while in office.

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