Silvio Berlusconi survived a confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday night after rebel MPs loyal to his former lieutenant Gianfranco Fini grudgingly opted to keep alive Italy's Right-wing government.

After hearing the Prime Minister's appeal for unity in a speech to the Lower House, their spokesman, Italo Bocchino, said: “We shall give a confidence vote to the government because today's address to the chamber [of deputies] follows closely the programme on the basis of which the governing majority was elected.” Their climbdown handed a victory to Mr. Berlusconi that should ensure his government survives into next year. But the split on the Italian Right has poisoned the atmosphere surrounding his administration. The rebels pointedly omitted to applaud the Prime Minister's speech. And Mr. Fini reportedly called a meeting next week to discuss a new party. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

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