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Italy's Berlusconi Faces Political Crisis

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces a political crisis as one key ally has demanded that he put his government to a confidence vote while another has raised the possibility of withdrawing from his coalition.

Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini issued the call for a confidence vote next week as Mr. Berlusconi met with his coalition allies to discuss strategy after a crushing defeat in local elections last week. Mr. Fini heads the National Alliance, a junior partner in the ruling coalition.

Officials of another junior partner, the Union of Christian Democrats, said its leaders are considering a withdrawal from the cabinet.

Mr. Berlusconi is struggling to keep his government together, and is suggesting a cabinet reshuffle and review of the government's program.

Coalition parties went down to defeat in 11 of 13 regional elections. Previously, the coalition controlled eight of the regions.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.