Italy’s Berlusconi narrowly survives no-confidence votes


ROME (JTA) — Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi fended off challenges from the left and the right to narrowly survive two no-confidence votes in Parliament.

Protests broke out Tuesday in the streets of Rome following the vote, and the country’s political future remained unclear.

With the revolt by former ally Gianfranco Fini, Berlusconi does not hold a clear enough majority in Parliament to govern effectively, and some analysts predicted that the embattled prime minister might resign and call early elections.

Political instability is not expected to have an immediate impact on Italy’s relations with Israel. Both Berlusconi and Fini, a former neo-fascist turned mainstream conservative, are outspoken supporters of the Jewish state. In Israel last month, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called Italy Israel’s "best friend" in Europe.

In Tuesday’s votes, Berlusconi’s government won a confidence motion in the Chamber of Deputies by just three votes, 314-311, with two abstentions. He won in the Senate by 162-135 with 11 abstentions.

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