Italian centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi stunned lawmakers on Wednesday (October 2) when he told the Senate he would support Prime Minister Enrico Letta in a confidence vote. The U-turn ensured the survival of the government that Berlusconi had been trying to bring down.

Berlusconi said he had listened to Letta's speech promising tax cuts and economic and judicial reform and taken heed.

His words, greeted by widespread surprise, appear to put an end to the political crisis that opened up after Berlusconi asked his ministers on Saturday (September 28) to withdraw from the cabinet.

Berlusconi's party secretary and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano led a group of lawmakers who had defied Berlusconi's previous orders to sink Letta.

Berlusconi is fighting for his political survival after an August conviction for tax fraud that will leave him without a seat in parliament and serving a year under house arrest or in community service.

Earlier Letta spoke at length about Italy's role in the European Union and his goal to push for greater integration during the country's rotating presidency in the second half of 2014, suggesting he sees his government lasting at least until 2015.

Presented by Adam Justice

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