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SILVIO BERLUSCONI WINS ITALY VOTE OF CONFIDENCE

By NBF News
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Mr Berlusconi received a last minute boost from two opposition MPs

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has won a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament.

He won by a margin of three votes, following a tense session of the house and amid large protests in the capital.

Mr Berlusconi also won an earlier vote in the Senate. He had urged MPs not to jeopardise the country's stability by ousting him.

His critics argue he is too mired in personal scandal and corruption allegations to remain in office.

Mr Berlusconi, 74, is halfway through a five-year term but his position has been weakened by a series of scandals largely involving his relationships with women.

He has also lost the support of his closest political ally, Gianfranco Fini, along with dozens of his supporters, depriving him of his automatic majority in the lower house.

But in the final vote, two opposition deputies switched sides.

Thousands of people have gathered in Rome and Italy's other major cities to demand a change in government.