Berlusconi Loses Majority In Key Vote
The pressure on Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign continues today after his country's Parliament approved the government's budget — but with less than the 316 votes he needed to maintain a ruling majority.
The budget got 308 aye votes. But 321 members abstained from voting, The Associated Press says.
As the wire service says, though, while "the opposition immediately demanded that Berlusconi step down to calm the bond markets ... he has never listened to any calls to resign before his term ends in 2013."
There are fears, as the BBC reminds us, that Italy's weak economic growth and nearly $3 trillion in debt "could make it the next country to fall in the eurozone debt crisis."
"World leaders," The Wall Street Journal notes, "have been urging the premier to take key steps to reboot Italy's economy, but the government has repeatedly failed to deliver. ... Now, Mr. Berlusconi's options are more limited. He is likely to visit the offices of Italy's head of state, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, to discuss whether he should step down. In such a scenario, Mr. Napolitano would then hold a series of consultation with Italy's main political parties to decide whether to call early elections or form a new government."
According to The Guardian, not only are Berlusconi's opponents urging him to step down, so is a key ally. "News is breaking that Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League party that governs in coalition with Berlusconi, has called on him to resign."