Nov. 08 - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi suffered a huge humiliation in parliament on Tuesday in a key budget vote which showed he no longer had a majority and increased the pressure on him to resign. Berlusconi only won the vote after the opposition abstained. Joanna Partridge reports.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made his way to parliament, knowing his leadership was hanging in the balance. Inside, he won a key vote on the country's budget - but only because the opposition abstained. The result made it clear he's lost his parliamentary majority - piling more pressure on him to resign. Berlusconi only received 308 votes, well below the 316 he needs for an absolute majority in the 630 seat Chamber of Deputies and the opposition called on him to step down. Berlusconi has been on shaky ground for weeks, but some analysts say Tuesday's events are pushing him towards resignation. James Walston is from the American University of Rome. SOUNDBITE: JAMES WALSTON, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AT THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF ROME, SAYING (English): "Even his closest advisors have realised that Berlusconi has lost his magic. The sort of problems which Italy is facing are ones which Berlusconi is both unwilling and incapable of dealing with." Berlusconi's key coalition ally, Umberto Bossi, the head of the Northern League, told the media magnate to step down. The political turmoil comes after Rome's borrowing costs soared to 6.7 percent - close to levels many see as unsustainable. Analysts say Italy is reaching the point where Portugal, Greece and Ireland were forced to seek a bailout, and that's causing deep concern about how the euro zone can survive if its third-largest economy can't service its debts. Joanna Partridge, Reuters