Silvio Berlusconi fights for political survival

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The Independent Online

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is preparing to address parliament in a move to save his government.

Berlusconi will seek to defend his government's agenda in a crucial address today, a day before a vote of confidence that will test if the premier retains a majority in parliament. The crisis was provoked when politicians this week blocked routine legislation, raising calls from the opposition for his immediate resignation.

The test comes at a crucial moment for Italy, which is under pressure to come up with growth-promoting measures to avert being dragged into the widening sovereign debt crisis. Italy has one of the eurozone's highest public debt ratios, at nearly 120 per cent of gross domestic product.