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Italy’s Opposition Leaders to Meet Before Key Vote on Budget

Leaders of Italy’s opposition parties in the Chamber of Deputies will meet tomorrow to define a unified stance before a key parliamentary vote on the 2010 budget that could bring down the government, two lawmakers said.

“We have reached the point of no return and we are going toward a tremendous parliamentary clash tomorrow,” Roberto Rao, a member of the centrist UDC party, said in a phone interview. “We will either vote against the budget or abstain, the only certainty is that the vote will be unanimous.”

The opposition leaders will meet at 11 a.m. in Rome, while the timing of the ballot, normally a routine vote to rubber-stamp last year’s budget, hasn’t been scheduled yet. They may decide to present a no-confidence motion against the government if Berlusconi wins tomorrow’s vote, Francesco Boccia, a lawmaker within the Democratic Party, said in an interview.

Berlusconi today dismissed reports that he was about to resign. In an interview with newspaper Libero, the premier said he would call a confidence vote next week on the austerity measures pledged to the EU that aim to boost growth and trim the region’s second-largest debt.

This “clearly demonstrates that he doesn’t have any intention of stepping down,” Boccia said.

Berlusconi is struggling to keep his allies in line after several lawmakers in his coalition announced they may abandon the majority.

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