One of Silvio Berlusconi’s most loyal ministers survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, offering a boost to the beleaguered Italian prime minister as he battles a prostitution scandal.
Culture Minister Sandro Bondi had faced pressure to resign over the rundown state of the archaeological site at Pompeii following the collapse last year of the 2,000 year-old “House of the Gladiators”.
Even if he had been forced to step down, the stability of the government would not have been affected but his loss would have been a heavy symbolic blow to the prime minister, who has been engulfed by a tide of scandal.
Wednesday’s motion against Bondi, one of Berlusconi’s most faithful lieutenants and a national coordinator of the ruling PDL party, was defeated by 314 votes to 292 with two abstentions.
The result underlined the difficulty the divided opposition has had in mustering the numbers to take advantage of the government’s problems.
Berlusconi has been accused of paying a 17-year-old nightclub dancer for sex and of abusing his office by pressuring police to release her from custody one night after she had been detained over unrelated theft allegations.
The affair has added to the pressure he has been under since a split in the PDL last year cost him a secure majority in parliament. His government barely scraped though a general no-confidence vote in December.