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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Berlusconi defeated in Rai vote
Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi says his coalition government will survive
Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has suffered a defeat in parliament, just as he vowed not to succumb to squabbles within his governing coalition.

One of Mr Berlusconi's partners, the Democratic Union of the Centre, sided with the opposition to vote off the board of state broadcaster, Rai.

Italy's labour minister said the defeat meant the PM had lost his majority.

Mr Berlusconi told parliament his coalition would survive until Italy's next general election in 2006.

"I am certain, absolutely certain that we will know how to recover the ideal impetus to honour the commitment we made with Italians," Mr Berlusconi said.


The prime minister said he was open to discussing a proportional electoral system - a request put by the Christian Democratic party.

He promised the swift approval of reforms giving more power to the regions - a move demanded by the Northern League, another coalition ally.

Mr Berlusconi promised government decisions would be made together, after criticism that he and his Forza Italia party have too much power.

He added: "With their vote Italians have asked for a stable government, a legislature government and this is what we want to offer to Italians, even through the hard work of political negotiations and confrontation among allies."

The vote against the government came in a committee overseeing Rai.

Afterwards, Labour Minister Roberto Maroni, a leader of the Northern League party, said: "The majority no longer exists, Berlusconi should act on it."

The BBC's David Willey
"Political commentators said his government appeared to be falling apart"

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