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    Berlusconi in no confidence vote

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    ODN

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    Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has pleaded with MPs for his political life on the eve of crucial confidence votes.


    The Prime Minister urged them to support him, warning that bringing down his government would be "folly" because stability was essential as the country battled an economic crisis.


    Mr Berlusconi appealed to rebels who have vowed to try to oust him during Tuesday's votes. He offered to negotiate a new agenda that would allow the government to survive until new parliamentary elections are held in 2013.


    "The last thing Italy needs is a political crisis," Mr Berlusconi argued in a 30-minute speech to the Senate.


    He faces votes in both houses of parliament after a dramatic falling-out with his one-time closest ally, Gianfranco Fini, his party's co-founder.


    The 74-year-old Mr Berlusconi was once immensely popular, but his approval ratings have nose-dived and his political capital diluted amid scandals engulfing his private life, reports of lavish parties and alleged encounters with prostitutes.