Berlusconi defeated, decides to back govt of Italian PM Letta
ROME (AP) - Silvio Berlusconi has announced his party will vote to support the government of Premier Enrico Letta, a major turnabout that signals he was defeated in his efforts to bring down the government.
In brief remarks on Wednesday before the confidence vote, Berlusconi said: "Italy needs a government that can produce structural and institutional reforms that the country needs to modernise. We have decided, not without internal strife, to vote in confidence."
It was a huge setback for Berlusconi. He had demanded his five Cabinet ministers quit the government and bring it down. He is incensed at a vote planned on Friday that could strip him of his Senate seat following his tax fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence.
The survival of Italy's government was at stake on Wednesday before the expected confidence votes in Parliament forced by Silvio Berlusconi's decision to yank his party's support. But a divisive split among Berlusconi stalwarts in favor of stability might save the fragile ruling coalition, for now.