Berlusconi parties on…

Berlusconi parties on…

With students rioting on the streets, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has (barely) survived a no-confidence vote in Italy’s parliament today:

Mr. Berlusconi won by three votes in the lower house, with 314 in favor, 311 against and 2 abstentions. He also won a confidence motion in the Senate.

But he still lacks a clear parliamentary majority. Not even Mr. Berlusconi was strong — or focused enough — to hold together a fragile and ideologically incoherent center-right coalition that began unraveling after he split with a Mr. Fini, thereby losing his parliamentary majority.

He’s hardly out of the woods. In January, Berlusconi faces yet another constitutional court challenge to his immunity from prosecution. Naturally, there’s a legal follow-up to this vote, with widespread accusations of vote buying. And it’s considered likely that he will have to call early elections for this spring.

Nobody ever got rich betting against Berlusconi’s political survival skills, but it’s worth considering who’s likely to benefit if he is eventually taken down:

If Italy does go to early elections this spring, the Northern League is expected to register significant gains. Their point-man in the government is the well-respected finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, and in one scenario he might become prime minister.

So it’s Berlusconi… or these people. Either way, Italy’s political future is not looking bright.