After the Confidence Vote, What’s Next for Berlusconi?

My piece on Berlusconi’s future has just been published by Time.

Only two things are clear about the vote of confidence faced by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday. One is that it will be a photo-finish, with the outcome unpredictable until the final count. The other is that the premier will end the day a weakened man.

Even the best-case scenario leaves Berlusconi, who once enjoyed the largest majority in Italian history, clinging to his coalition by a handful of votes, with his government at risk of collapse with every major decision. Other possibilities could see the extroverted media tycoon relegated to a supporting role in a technical government, or out of power completely, politically staggered ahead of a fresh round of elections most likely in the spring, and dangerously exposed to prosecution for tax fraud and corruption. “He’s wounded,” says Giuliano Ferrara, editor of daily Il Foglio newspaper and a friend and occasional advisor to the prime minister. “Berlusconi’s situation is a difficult one.”

Read the rest.