Berlusconi puts final touches to new coalition26/04/2005 - 08:59:48
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was putting the final touches to his new, conservative coalition today before presenting it to parliament for a confidence vote in hopes his fractious coalition can hold together until elections next year.
Berlusconi was due to address the Chamber of Deputies this evening ahead of a debate.
No schedule was announced for the required confidence vote on the new government, but the vote was unlikely to be held before tomorrow evening. The senate also will vote on the new coalition later in the week.
The media magnate had been leading Italy’s longest government since the Second World War, but last week, relentless squabbling by coalition allies as they manoeuvred for more power forced him to resign with less than four years at the helm.
With ruling parties worried about the prospect of early elections amid a sagging economy and following recent losses at the polls in regional balloting, Berlusconi was able to cobble together a new coalition quickly, and he and his ministers were sworn in on Saturday.
The government holds the majority in both chambers of parliament, and the premier should win the confidence votes, unless some coalition allies feel dissatisfied with how ministry posts were appointed and prefer to go to the polls soon.
But recent public opinion polls have found the government’s popularity sliding.
Besides an economy that has failed to take off, the government’s stand on the Iraq war has also angered many Italians.
Berlusconi staunchly backed Washington in the war and sent in one of the US-led coalition’s largest military contingents to help with post-war reconstruction. Italians are widely against the war, turning out in huge numbers for protest marches before it began.
His new government, Italy’s 60th since the end of the Second World War, is essentially the same as his previous one.
The centre-left opposition, hoping to regain the premier’s office, contends Berlusconi’s government is a “photocopy” model which will be unable to meet Italy’s pressing problems, including stimulating job creation.
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