Berlusconi's political fate hangs on vote of confidence
ITALIAN opposition MPs are counting down the hours until tomorrow's confidence vote that could allow them to put Silvio Berlusconi's lame-duck government out of its misery in time for Christmas -- and possibly boot the beleaguered tycoon-premier into the political outer darkness.
But the deal was by no means sealed last night, as political analysts suggested that frantic last-minute parliamentary mudslinging and deal-broking could mean that Mr Berlusconi would survive by as narrow a margin as a single vote.
Claims of vote-rigging and doubt over whether three heavily pregnant deputies expected to oppose the government would be able to attend underlined that the 74-year-old premier's fate is far from sealed. He is expected to give a key campaigning speech in the Senate this morning. (© Independent News Service)