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Italy: no-confidence vote against gov't on Dec. 14

Premier Silvio Berlusconi will face a do-or-die no-confidence vote in Italy's parliament on Dec. 14, news reports said Tuesday.

The Italian leader has been battling with former ally Gianfranco Fini, who has urged Berlusconi to resign and this week withdrew from the government four officials from his breakaway faction.

Berlusconi is scheduled to address parliament on Dec. 13, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies said.

The next day, the lower house of parliament will vote on a no-confidence motion, while the Senate will vote on a motion in support of the government presented by Berlusconi's allies.

After the breakup with Fini, Berlusconi still has a slim majority in the Senate but can no longer be assured of a majority in the lower house of parliament, and most analysts expect he will lose the no-confidence vote in that house.

If that happens, Berlusconi has to resign.

The premier, 74, was voted into power in 2008. But his government has been weakened by the feud with Fini, while Berlusconi's image has suffered from a spate of scandals, including over his ties to a then-17-year-old Moroccan girl and reports of alleged encounters with a prostitute.

On Tuesday, Italy's president summoned the parliamentary speakers to discuss the political crisis and map out the next steps. Fini is also speaker of the lower Chamber of Deputies, and in that role he met with President Giorgio Napolitano and the Senate speaker, Renato Schifani.

Before the no-confidence vote, parliament will discusss and vote on the budget, considered crucial amid Italy's economic woes.

Dec. 14 promises to be a crucial day for Berlusconi not just in parliament.

Italy's Constitutional Court is set to discuss a law passed by Berlusconi's conservative allies that grants immunity from prosecution to the country's top officials.

Berlusconi is a defendant in two ongoing trials, but the law suspends the proceedings for up to 18 months if the defendant has a "legitimate impediment" stemming from their work as an elected official.

The Constitutional Court must rule on whether the law violates the constitution.

Berlusconi is a defendant in two trials in Milan, one on corruption charges, one on tax fraud charges. He denies wrongdoing.