Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will hang onto power for at least a few more months after surviving a razor-thin confidence vote that could have forced his resignation.
By the final tally on Tuesday, Berlusconi survived on a 314-311 vote in Italy’s lower house of parliament, where he does not hold a solid majority.
The vote total was announced by a visibly tired Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of the lower house and a former Berlusconi ally who helped spark the current crisis by calling for Berlusconi to resign five weeks ago.
The outcome of the vote was unclear until the very end. That’s because at least a dozen lawmakers switched camps as the votes were counted in the wake of what local media said was a flurry of last-minute deal-making as both sides tried to tip the scales in their favor.
As the votes were counted, several minor scuffles broke out on the floor of the parliament, including one that lasted for several minutes after the vote of lawmaker Katia Polidori, a Fini supporter who unexpectedly switched sides to support Berlusconi amid catcalls that said she had been “bought” by allies of the billionaire prime minister.