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Berlusconi confident he will govern until 2013.

Summary: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he is confident he will govern until 2013.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he is certain he will see out his term in 2013 after narrowly surviving a confidence vote this week.

Tuesday's no-confidence motion left the government clinging on by just three votes and most political commentators predict early elections next year, two years ahead of time, unless Berlusconi can broaden his conservative coalition to centrists.

Mr Berlusconi said he would govern until the end of his term. "I am absolutely certain that I will complete the legislature," he told reporters after a European Union summit. "I am certain I have the numbers."

The no-confidence motion was put forward by the centre-left opposition and lawmakers loyal to Gianfranco Fini, the lower house speaker who bitterly split from Mr Berlusconi last summer.

Fini suffered a humiliating blow as the 74-year-old prime minister scraped through. But most analysts have called the vote a Pyrrhic victory for Mr Berlusconi that is unlikely to avert a fresh crisis in the next few weeks and a snap vote next spring.

The Union of the Centre, heirs to the old Christian Democratic Party, have so far rejected Berlusconi's offer to join his ruling coalition, closing ranks instead with Fini's breakaway Future and Freedom group.

Mr Berlusconi denied widespread allegations of vote-buying to secure the support of wavering rebel deputies in Tuesday's motion, with opposition lawmakers describing the atmosphere in parliament as a "cattle market" or "football transfer season".

Independent Television News Limited 2010. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Dec 17, 2010
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