ROME, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, stung by criticism for his handling of the economy and for personal scandals, narrowly won a confidence vote in Parliament.
The vote Friday was 316-301, the minimum Berlusconi needed, the BBC reported.
The vote was triggered by the downgrading of the government's credit rating and the failure of lawmakers to back a key part of the budget.
The confidence vote was forced after Parliament failed to approve a budget article by a single vote Tuesday.
Opposition leader Pierluigi Bersani, when demanding the confidence vote, said: "The government is not coping with the situation. The problems have all been laid out, but he [Berlusconi] only knows how to stay nailed to his seat by using tricks."
Berlusconi had expressed optimism about Friday's vote, saying: "There is no alternative to this government. Early elections would not solve the problems we have. A political crisis now would mean victory for the party of decline, catastrophe and speculation."
In addition to the struggle with the economy, the prime minister faces trials on sex, bribery and abuse of power charges.