Berlusconi faces polls in autumn
Snap Italian elections could be held this autumn as a result of a schism between Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a key ex-ally, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said yesterday.
Lower-house speaker and former fascist Gianfranco Fini, who split with Mr Berlusconi last week, allowed the prime minister to escape a full-blown showdown yesterday by letting a junior minister survive a confidence motion.
The motion against junior justice minister Giacomo Caliendo failed by 70 votes.
Fini's backers abstained, along with members of three smaller parties, totalling 75 votes, proving they could cost the government its majority.
If a government resigns and Italy's president fails to find someone who can form another one, he can then dissolve the parliament and call early elections.
"If the ship hits the rocks, we go back to the polls," Maroni told 'Corriere della Sera'.