Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi faces a showdown in parliament after a key ally broke from his conservative governing coalition.
The vote in the lower house on Wednesday - an opposition censure motion against a government official implicated in a corruption scandal - is the first test of strength for Berlusconi after the breakup with Gianfranco Fini. Lawmakers loyal to Fini have formed their own group, potentially depriving Berlusconi's coalition of a majority in the lower house.
The motion is expected to fail as Fini's lawmakers say they will abstain rather than vote against the government. Still, mass abstentions will send a clear signal that Berlusconi's grip is loosening and show how much clout Fini now yields.