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Italy’s Letta wins parliament’s confidence vote

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Italian parliament has given vote of confidence to Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s coalition government after former premier, Silvio Berlusconi, backed down in his bid to topple the government.

The results of the Wednesday vote showed out of 305 senators who participated, 235 senators were in favor of the government and 70 voted against with no abstentions.

Just prior to the voting, Berlusconi decided to abandon his bid to topple the government and announced that his People of Freedom Party would give a vote of support.

Berlusconi took the decision after over 40 of his lawmakers had said they would defy him and instead vote in support of Letta’s coalition government.

Earlier in the day, Letta had appealed to lawmakers to have the courage to vote for him, warning that a no vote could prove fatal for Italy.

The confidence vote came after Berlusconi ordered his five ministers on September 28 to resign from the government in a dispute over his fraud conviction.

Berlusconi blamed on October 1, Letta and President Giorgio Napolitano for his decision to withdraw his ministers since they had not protected him from his legal problems.

A special Senate committee is to vote on October 4 whether to open proceedings that could result in Berlusconi being expelled from parliament by mid-October and losing his political immunity from arrest in the tax fraud case and others.

The political instability in Italy comes at a time when the eurozone’s third-largest economy is struggling to meet a public deficit target of 2.9 percent for 2013, which is below the EU-mandated 3 percent.

The country is also suffering from a jobless rate of 12.2 percent, with youth unemployment also at its highest-ever level of over 40 percent.

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