ITALY – Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was today facing a vote of confidence over pension reform plans.

“The government has put a vote of confidence on the pension reform under debate in the House,” said official news agency AGI. The vote was scheduled for this evening.

It quoted parliamentary relations minister Carlo Giovanardi as saying Italy "needs certainty” on the pension reform.

Berlusconi spoke on the telephone with Northern League leader Umberto Bossi who approved confidence vote on the pension bill, AGI added.

“I understand the criticism from the opposition, but the Speaker cannot be asked to intervene in government o this matter, standing between the executive and legislative bodies. I can only safeguard the legitimacy of Parliamentary procedures,” said parliamentary speaker Pier Ferdinando Casini, quoted by AGI.

If Berlusconi wins the vote it would enable him to meet his promise of passing the law before parliament's summer recess starts on Friday. He has used 21 confidence votes since coming to power three years.

“We need to do this reform to ensure that the youngest Italians will have an adequate pension,'' industry minister Antonio Marzano was quoted as saying in an interview by Bloomberg News.