Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Retains Power -- Barely

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Berlusconi Clings to Power

This was the 53rd confidence vote called during Berlusconi's three and a half year's leadership of the country. Confidence votes are often used by governments in recent years to speed laws through parliament that are weighed down by hundreds of amendments but are normally called when the government majority is certain.

Berlusconi had reportedly been working the phones until late at night trying to ensure he had the support but he remained concerned about the outcome.

Some political analysts said that Berlusconi would survive today and his government would carry on amidst political uncertainty and fatigue until the start of the New Year, but most do not see his government surviving through its term which ends in 2013. Berlusconi has repeatedly resisted calls for new elections and so far hung onto power although weakened by continued personal scandals and endless trials.

Only last Friday, Berlusconi complained that power was a burden for him while he stressed he would continue to make the sacrifice to keep the government in place and steer Italy out of its current crisis. Vowing to serve out his term he sent a message to members of his People of Freedom Party which said "Being in government is a great personal sacrifice for me, it's a burden I would gladly do without, but a government crisis is the last thing Italy needs at this time. "

However political tensions are increasing, fueled by Italian president Giorgio Napolitano's harsh words Wednesday, who told Berlusconi he must fix the political mess. Anger is also on the rise among Italians as the 'indignati' (The indignant) protest grows against government's cuts and the lack of job opportunities. The young protesters who are using social networks to organize their protests, have called themselves 'indignati' after Spain's 'indignados' and are hoping to cause a similar stir to the Occupy Wall Street movement sweeping the United States.

More "indignati" protesters are planning to amass on Rome Saturday from around the country. Many expect these protests will turn violent. The city of Rome has already announced it will close off the center of Rome to the protesters who have already replied they will try to break the blockade.

The former Governor of the Bank Of Italy, Mario Draghi, now newly-named president of the European Central Bank, warned Wednesday in a much-reported speech that 'Italy must save itself on its own' without counting on any external help and must act immediately' or it will be 'ungovernable'. Three international ratings agencies have recently downgraded Italy's public debt because of the country's fragile economic situation.

Along with the growing anger among Italians with the political incompetence shown to deal with the country's dire economic situation, there is also typical depressed resignation among Italians. "The government will either fall today, or tomorrow. One day he will go. Someday soon it will fall as it is at its end," said the news stand seller as he shrugged his shoulders.

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