/AKI) Italy's embattled prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has ruled out a mid-term election in the country and insisted that his government will stay in office until the end of its term in 2013.
'I rule out fresh elections. The situation is under control, we are calm and we have the necessary conditions in parliament to govern until the end of the legislature in 2013,' Berlusconi told his private Canale 5 TV channel's 'Mattino 5' current affairs programme.
The prime minister's claim came after a new survey predicted less than 30 percent of the electorate would currently vote for his ruling People of Freedom (PdL) party, which has been hit by corruption scandals and mired in political crisis since Berlusconi's split last month with his rival, lower house of parliament speaker Gianfranco Fini.
'I am sure Italians want the government to go forward and continue to carry out the reforms in our electoral programme, reforms which Italy needs,' the conservative Berlusconi said Monday.
But the newly published opinion poll carried out by Demos & Pi for Italy's La Repubblica left-leaning newspaper showed the PdL would get just 29.8 percent of votes in a snap election - almost 8 percentage points less than the 27.4 percent it won in 2008.
The survey, conducted between Sep 7 and 10 is based on interviews with 1,176 adults and has a 2.9 percent point margin of error. Support for the PdL in a June poll was 33.2 percent.
The government's key coalition partner, the anti-immigrant Northern League party would gain the support of 11 percent of voters if elections were held today - a significant gain from the 8.3 percent of votes it won in 2008, the survey said.
Northern League leader Umberto Bossi and other party politicians have been pushing for early elections as they are confident that they will only increase their parliamentary seats.
Italy's Interior Minister and Northern League member, Roberto Maroni, said Sunday fresh elections needed to be held unless the government could win a confidence motion in the lower house of parliament with a majority (316) votes.
Since Fini, 33 PdL MPs and 10 PdL senators formed a breakaway group, Future and Freedom, the Berlusconi government no longer has a guaranteed parliamentary majority.
Berlusconi has tied his government's future to a five-point programme of reforms due to be put to a confidence vote this month.