After losing a routine parliamentary vote on the budget, Silvio Berlusconi, the very annoyed prime minister of Italy called for a vote of confidence. The vote is expected on Friday.

I believe Berlusconi may lose a close vote. If not, he will be discarded by March.

Link if above video does not play: Berlusconi calls confidence vote on his government

Berlusconi stakes his fate on confidence vote in parliament

The Guardian reports Berlusconi stakes his fate on confidence vote in parliament

Silvio Berlusconi is to stake the fate of his government and his own political future on a confidence vote in parliament on Friday.

Standing before a half-empty chamber boycotted by the opposition, he appealed on Thursday for support from the chamber of deputies, the lower house of the Italian parliament, saying: “There are no alternatives.” Berlusconi decided to seek a vote of confidence after losing a crucial division on the public accounts earlier this week.

The result of the confidence vote is due at around 11.30am GMT on Friday. To survive, the government needs only to secure more votes than the opposition. If it loses, it is constitutionally bound to resign.

All but six deputies were missing from the opposition benches when the prime minister got up to speak, the main opposition parties having decided to stay away from the debate in protest at Berlusconi’s refusal to step down.

Under mounting pressure from the courts, where he is a defendant in three trials, the prime minister leads an increasingly fractious party.

Unusually for a conservative government, Berlusconi’s is under open attack from the leading bosses’ federation, Confindustria. Alarm over the state of the economy also helps to explain the emergence in recent weeks of critical factions in the PdL, notably one centred on a former minister, Claudio Scajola, who resigned last year in an alleged corruption scandal.

Scajola said he and his followers would support the government on Friday and the PdL’s parliamentary business managers appeared confident they could muster enough votes in the 630-member chamber. There has been widespread media speculation that rebels in the Northern League and Berlusconi’s own party would prefer to wait until January before delivering a fatal blow to the government.

That could clear the way for an election in the spring – before taxpayers start to feel the full effects of the tax rises and spending cuts imposed in recent months. But with Berlusconi’s approval rating below 25% in the polls, the right has a vast amount of ground to make up.

Futile Fight to Survive

Deutsche Well reports In parliament, and in court, Berlusconi is fighting to survive

Even by the standards of Berlusconi’s roller-coaster ride in politics, the billionaire’s grip on power is hanging by a thread. The “parliamentary accident” he mentioned in his speech took place earlier this week, when his weakened coalition lost a key parliamentary vote on the budget by one ballot. This defeat led to opposition calls for Berlusconi to resign and presidential encouragement that he put his government’s stability to the test.

After the vote, amid cheers from the opposition, a clearly furious Berlsuconi shoved past Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, who showed up just seconds too late to cast what would have been the decisive ballot. Tension between the two was already high; Tremonti has been pushing for unpopular reforms in his bid to shore up Italy’s finances, at a time when Berlsuconi’s top priority is clinging to his position.

Court complications

Berlusconi is also under personal pressure in Italy’s courts, facing four separate trials and allegations ranging from fraud to paying for sex with a minor. Given the constant flow of revelations from his now-infamous “bunga bunga” sex parties, more cases could be in the pipeline. This, coupled with the country’s economic woes, has put the prime minister’s popularity rating at an all-time low.

Berlusconi’s speech was primarily a rallying cry aimed at his supporters – many of the opposition parties boycotted the address – ahead of Friday’s vote of confidence, the second his government will have faced this year.

Amid the widening rifts among erstwhile allies, economists and business leaders have suggested that an interim government of some type should take over as Italy fights a national debt approaching 120 percent of gross domestic product.

Should Berlsuconi’s government lose Friday’s vote, the premier would be obliged to resign.

Italian Government Bond Yields Surge to 5.82%

Inquiring minds note the selloff in Italian and Greek Bonds.

Bear in mind the ECB stepped in yesterday to purchase 6.18 billion euros of bonds. Without ECB support, Italian bonds yields would be North of 7%.

Well over half the rally (declining yields) when the ECB first stepped in has been taken back.

Greece 1-Year Government Bonds

Less than two weeks ago the Central bank of France insisted there were no toxic debts in French banks.

This prompted me to write on September 25 Desperate Times Lead to Desperate Lies; Europe Weighs the Weightless; Even Citigroup Sees the Lies

Are central bankers and politicians really as stupid as they sound or are they pathological liars who simply cannot help it?

Check out these preposterous lies by Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer as quoted by Bloomberg in Noyer Sees ‘Absolutely No Reason’ to Use Bank Backstop

Noyer Lies

  1. “I’m extremely confident” in French banks because “we know them very well. We know their balance sheets, their risk assessments. We know they have no toxic assets.”
  2. There is “absolutely no reason” to activate a support system for the nation’s banks that was set up during the financial crisis in 2008.
  3. Markets “are over-reacting,” he said. “They need to come back to a sense of reality.”

All of those are blatantly preposterous. However, lie number 1 has to be one of the top lies of the year. “French banks have no toxic assets”?!

For starters, what about Greek bonds about to take a 50% haircut or more in default? That lie is so ridiculous no one on the planet can possibly believe it.

On October 3, Dexia bank became the First Casualty of Greek Default.

Stupid lies (or blatant idiocy as stated by Noyer) only to be proven false a week later, does nothing for the credibility of the ECB or the Bank of France.

Mistrust is everywhere and lies foster that mistrust.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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