Culture minister survives confidence vote over Pompeii collapses
Italy's culture minister Sandro Bondi survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote late on Wednesday aimed removing him from office over the recent collapses at the 2,000-year-old ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
After a four-hour debate in the parliament, 292 deputies , mainly from the opposition and centrist parties, voted against Bondi, while 314 voted in favour and two abstained.
The survival of Bondi, a long-term Berlusconi loyalist, underlined the difficulty Italy's divided opposition has had in mustering the numbers to defeat the conservative coalition. The government has narrowly survived two confidence votes in the past four months and is struggling to deal with a prostitution scandal that has engulfed the 74-year-old premier.
The opposition Democratic Party presented the motion against Bondi, who they blame for the run-down state of Pompeii, a UNESCO heritage site and one of the world's most famous historical sites.
Following heavy rains, Pompeii was hit by three cave-ins in less than a month. The collapse in November of part of its frescoed House of the Gladiator and a wall at the site of the House of the Moralist shocked the world.
The collapses were followed by another cave-in at an ancient house in Pompeii in early December. The opposition blamed Bondi and said neglect and a cut in funding for the fragile archaeological site had caused the tragedy
The minister denied the accusations, saying his government had done its best to preserve and restore Italy's artistic heritage, and rejected calls for his resignation.
Following the Pompeii collapses, Bondi launched a special foundation to preserve the site.