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Berlusconi Wins Senate Confidence Vote as Chamber Ballot Starts

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Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a confidence motion in the Senate, setting up a showdown in the Chamber of Deputies where his government may be toppled two years before its term ends.

Berlusconi, 74, triumphed in the upper house, where he has a majority, by 162 to 135, Senate Speaker Renato Schifano announced. The premier’s political fate will be decided by the lower house, where debate is under way. Final results there should come by 2 p.m. in Rome.

Vote estimates indicate the thinnest possible margins. Newspaper La Repubblica estimated the Chamber of Deputies, the 630-seat lower house, will bring down Berlusconi by 313 to 312. Corriere della Sera reckons the incumbent winning by 313 to 312.

A loss in the Chamber vote would force Berlusconi to offer his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano. The president would then consult parties to see if another government can be formed with or without Berlusconi as its head, before calling for a vote. Even with his popularity at record low levels, polls indicate that the premier’s coalition might win re-election.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey Donovan at jdonovan26@bloomberg.net; Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at ltotaro@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Fraher at jfraher@bloomberg.net

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