(AP) Lawmakers belonging to Silvio Berlusconi's center-right party have abstained in a confidence vote in the government of Premier Mario Monti, raising questions over its future.
Though the government won the vote Thursday by 127 to 17, investors feared the move may herald a period of political uncertainty in the run-up to planned elections next year.
The Milan stock exchange fell sharply with the benchmark FTSE MIB trading 1 percent lower at 15,795.
Political parties are gearing up for elections next year to replace Monti's year-old government.
Berlusconi has been hinting at a comeback, after earlier saying he would leave the party to a younger candidate. The center-left has been energized by a lively primary that saw party secretary Pier Luigi Bersani win the nomination.