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Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Berlusconi wins senate confidence
Silvio Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini
Berlusconi lends an ear to his deputy Gianfranco Fini
Italy's newly elected Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has won a vote of confidence in the upper house of parliament, the senate.

Mr Berlusconi's alliance has a solid majority in both houses of parliament and he won the vote easily with 175-133.

The lower house is expected to pass its confidence motion on Thursday.

That will leave the way clear for him to form what will be the 59th Italian Government since World War II.

Counter-reforms

Mr Berlusconi told the senate that he would act to undo some of the work of the previous, left-wing administration.

"Wrong reforms call for counter-reforms," he said.

He also promised to resolve the conflict of interest between his vast, personal media empire and his public office.

Earlier this week he told parliament that he would submit a draft law before the summer recess at the beginning of August.

Umberto Bossi
Umberto Bossi caused controversy at the swearing-in ceremony
"I reiterate that my history as an entrepreneur in the communications sector, and my personal conscience, allow no-one to suspect that in my institutional activities I act for any ends other than the common good," he said.

Mr Berlusconi has been criticised at home and abroad for remaining vague on how he plans to separate his control of the television stations and newspapers which he and his family own from his position as prime minister.

But the Culture Minister, Giuliano Urbani, told La Repubblica newspaper on Wednesday that the government would probably set up a blind trust to manage Mr Berlusconi's $12bn empire.

Controversial cabinet

The composition of the new government has also drawn controversy for the inclusion of Mr Berlusconi's extremist coalition partners in prominent ministries.

Umberto Bossi, leader of the anti-immigration Northern League, has been put in charge of the ministry for reform and the regions, while Gianfranco Fini, from the post-fascist National Alliance, has been made deputy prime minister.

Mr Bossi caused a stir on Monday when he swore allegiance to the non-existent state of Padania, not to Italy when taking office before President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Mr Bossi's party has campaigned for independence for the north of Italy in order to set up a mini-state under the flag of Padania.

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See also:

18 Jun 01 | Europe
Berlusconi replies to critics
19 Jun 01 | Europe
Italian press react to Berlusconi
15 May 01 | Europe
Berlusconi lays out big plans
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