Berlusconi to face December 14 confidence vote
Embattled Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government is set to face a parliament confidence vote on December 14, officials announced Tuesday.
The decision followed a meeting between Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and the speakers of parliament's two houses, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, DPA reported.
The main parties in the centre-left opposition last week formally demanded a confidence vote which they say is necessary following a series of sex scandals that have brought into question Berlusconi's fitness for office.
A defeat in either the Chamber of Deputies or the upper house Senate, would force three-times premier Berlusconi to resign.
The government is in danger of losing the vote in the Chamber of Deputies where the comfortable majority won by the centre-right coalition in the 2008 general elections has been eroded by a recent split between Berlusconi and his long-time ally Gianfranco Fini.
On Monday Chamber of Deputies speaker Fini followed through on his threat to withdraw from the government ministers loyal to him.
Fini and Berlusconi have been in a high-profile standoff since July when Fini and his Future and Freedom party allies branched off from Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, but stayed in the government.
Fini, a former neo-Fascist whom Berlusconi helped to make respectable by dragging him into the centre-right, has publicly called for the premier's resignation.
Besides the rift with Fini, Berlusconi has faced increasing pressure after recent reports that he interceded to keep a 17-year-old girl out of jail. The girl had reportedly attended parties at which Berlusconi was present, though she has since said that she never engaged in sex with the prime minister.