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Tasks for Italy's Letta after beating Berlusconi challenge

By Gavin Jones ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta's near term survival seems to be assured after beating an attempt by center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi to bring down his coalition government. The government may now be less prone to infighting and instability, but it still faces an arduous task to put public finances on a sound footing and turn around what has been the euro zone's most sluggish economy for more than a decade.

Berlusconi drops bid to oust govt in shock U-turn

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi abandoned his bid to topple Enrico Letta's government in a humiliating climbdown after key allies rebelled against his leadership. "We have decided to vote for confidence, not without internal disputes," Berlusconi said before a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, called after he ordered his ministers to leave the cabinet. Berlusconi said he had changed tack after hearing Prime Minister Letta's promise to lower taxes and was mindful of the need for reforms after calling just hours before for early elections.

EU's Barroso hails Italy vote as 'decisive' for eurozone

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday hailed the Italian Senate's vote in favour of the government as "decisive" not just for Italy, but for the eurozone and European Union as a whole. In an apparent criticism of former premier Silvio Berlusconi, whose last-minute U-turn effectively saved Prime Minister Enrico Letta's government, Barroso also said the Italian economy could not afford an "artificial political crisis."

Berlusconi U-turn secures Italian government survival

By Paolo Biondi ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta won a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday after Silvio Berlusconi, facing revolt in his own center-right party, backtracked on threats to bring down the government.

Italy's Letta tipped to defeat Berlusconi challenge

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta is tipped to win a nail-biting parliamentary confidence vote Wednesday which would deal a major blow to Silvio Berlusconi but could leave Italy more frail than ever. Letta's survival hinges on rebels within Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom party (PDL), who are considering splitting from the media mogul after he called time on the government and pulled his ministers from the cabinet.

Defeat in parliament: Berlusconi's 'final chapter'?

Abandoned by top aides and choked by legal woes, Silvio Berlusconi's defeat in a showdown with Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Wednesday was seen by analysts as a sign of his terminal decline. "I think we are seeing the final chapter of Berlusconi's political life," Giacomo Marramao, a politics professor at Roma Tre university, told AFP after a dramatic confidence vote in parliament. "The result is less credibility, a decline in credibility," Marramao said, pointing to the divisions within Berlusconi's once fiercely loyal centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.

EU's Rehn: Italy needs political stability for reforms, growth

PARIS (Reuters) - Italy must quickly restore political stability to make the reforms it needs to return to growth, the European Union's top economic official said on Tuesday. Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's decision to order five ministers to resign has plunged Italy into political chaos and left the euro zone's third-largest economy without a fully operational government, prompting warnings that its sovereign debt rating is at risk.

Italian stocks, bonds recover ground as election risk abates

By Lisa Jucca MILAN (Reuters) - Expectations that a rebellion within Silvio Berlusconi's party may avoid snap elections in Italy pulled bond yields off the day's highs and curbed stock market losses. Investors had sold Italian government bonds and shares earlier on Monday after Berlusconi pulled the rug from under Prime Minister Enrico Letta's frail coalition government by ordering five center-right ministers to quit.

Italian political turmoil hits shares, bonds

By Lisa Jucca MILAN (Reuters) - Italian government bonds and shares dived on Monday after Silvio Berlusconi pulled the rug from under Enrico Letta's coalition government by ordering five center-right ministers to quit. Berlusconi's decision, which comes as the media tycoon is facing eviction from parliament after a tax fraud conviction, has left the euro zone's third-largest economy without a functioning government.

Italy confidence vote set as left-right coalition teeters

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta called a parliamentary vote of confidence in his teetering left-right government on Wednesday amid a tug-of-war over Silvio Berlusconi's legal woes. "We evaluated a very complicated and complex situation and decided to go before parliament as soon as possible," Letta told Italian television shortly after meeting Sunday with President Giorgio Napolitano. The crisis was sparked when Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party pulled its ministers out of the barely five-month-old coalition government.
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