Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his conservative government survived – just barely – a confidence vote Friday that could have forced his resignation.
Still, Berlusconi and co. likely won’t be celebrating too hard: the narrowness of the vote (316-301) will more or less prevent the government from passing legislation, the New York Times reports.
This is the second confidence vote Berlusconi has survived in a month. Italian news agency AKI reports that Friday's vote came after the government came up short on a "routine budget vote." The crucial but qualified victory for the embattled prime minister also comes in the wake of his legal problems and criticism of his handling of the economy in the midst of a crisis.
The Times has an in-depth story on the significance of the vote, and the tenuous situation Italy and Berlusconi are in right now:
Since 2009, the European debt crisis has felled governments in Ireland, Portugal and Slovakia, led to early elections in Spain and a cabinet reshuffle in Greece. So far, Mr. Berlusconi has proven to be a tough outlier — not least because the European Central Bank in August agreed to buy Italian debt.
But the bank did this in exchange for structural changes that the Berlusconi government has not yet implemented. The results of Friday’s vote make that even more difficult.