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Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi watches a critical vote in parliament

Tony Gentile / Reuters

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L) holds League North Party leader Umberto Bossi's hand during a finance vote at the parliament in Rome November 8, 2011. Berlusconi, under massive pressure to resign, faces a crucial vote on public finances in parliament on Tuesday which could sink his government if enough party rebels desert him. Berlusconi has denied reports that his resignation is imminent as he struggles to hold his centre-right coalition together, but the increased political uncertainty in Italy has added to turmoil in Europe, hitting global markets on Monday.

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Italian news reports quoted Umberto Bossi from the Northern League as telling reporters that it's time for Berlusconi to resign and be replaced by another party leader from their coalition.  Berlusconi has been resisting calls to resign for weeks.

Bossi has in the past expressed doubts on Berlusconi's ability to complete the current mandate. The Northern League as a whole has proven at times to be a difficult ally, exerting a strong independent streak and challenging Berlusconi on key policies.

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