ITALIAN Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s popularity rating hit new lows, an opinion poll showed yesterday, ahead of a confidence vote on his government’s austerity budget.
Divisions within his coalition government, corruption allegations and criticism of the budget have combined to weaken his government and send the usually popular Berlusconi’s approval ratings spiralling downward, the poll showed.
Berlusconi said his decision to put the €25 billion austerity budget to confidence votes in both houses of parliament was “an act of courage” because he would have to resign if he loses.
The budget, which critics say bleeds workers and spares the rich, includes drastic cuts to municipalities and regions.
Berlusconi will have to step down, as required by the constitution, if he loses the confidence votes, the first of which is expected next week in the upper house Senate.
A poll in Italy’s leading Corriere della Sera newspaper on Thursday showed Berlusconi’s approval rating falling to 41% from 50% about six weeks ago.
The survey by the ISPO research group showed 57% of those asked had a negative opinion of Berlusconi’s ability to govern, up from 48% in the last week of May.
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