PM Silvio Berlusconi just won a procedural budget vote in the lower house of the Italian Parliament, but without an absolute majority.This could be the beginning of the end for the prime minister, who has come under fire lately after personal scandals and questionable implementation of economic reforms.
The win was expected since members of the opposition party said they would abstain. However, it calls Berlusconi’s control over the government into serious doubt.
A string of recent defections had left Berlusconi’s majority uncertain. Receiving only 308 votes — rather than the 316 he needed for a majority — suggests that Berlusconi has lost the support of parliament’s lower house, although that support would ultimately need to be tested in a confidence vote.
Pier Luigi Bersani, secretary of the opposing centre-left party, followed the vote with a call for Berlusconi to resign.
Dow Jones reports that Berlusconi is considering doing just that.
“It finally looks as if Berlusconi’s days are numbered,” Raoul Ruparel of think tank Open Europe told Business Insider.” The sooner he is gone, the quicker Italy can begin the arduous task of returning its economy to economic growth and regaining the confidence of markets as well as international leaders.”
That call followed an announcement this morning from influential coalition ally Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League, that Berlusconi should be replaced with his own party’s Angelino Alfano.
The Italian FTSE MIB is off its highs but still 2.27% higher on the day. Markets cheered rumours of Berlusconi’s resignation yesterday, and slipped sharply once he denied them.