Italy's embattled Premier Silvio Berlusconi narrowly survived a test in Parliament on Thursday, with lawmakers deciding not to lift the immunity of an allied deputy under investigation in a corruption probe.
Italian lawmakers enjoy immunity from arrest unless they vote to lift it.
The lower Chamber of Deputies voted 312-306 to keep parliamentary immunity intact for Marco Milanese, a former top aide to Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti who has been implicated in a corruption investigation in Naples.
The vote by secret ballot was a key test of the cohesiveness of Mr. Berlusconi's majority. If Mr. Berlusconi's allies had turned on him and lifted Mr. Milanese's immunity, it would have sent a strong signal of divisions within the majority.
It would have also reflected poorly on Mr. Tremonti, the respected architect of austerity measures as the country struggles to avoid being sucked into Europe's debt crisis. Mr. Berlusconi said he was satisfied with the outcome. But according to vote breakup, at least seven Berlusconi allies did vote to have Mr. Milanese arrested, taking advantage of the secret ballot to break ranks. Their numbers, however, weren't enough to affect the final outcome.
Keywords: Italy politics