Bertie Ahern narrowly defeated an attempt Wednesday to oust him from office because he took secret cash payments from businessmen.
Ahern, 56, faced his first-ever "no confidence" vote in Ireland's parliament following his testimony this month to a corruption tribunal, which has exposed payments to Ahern in the mid-1990s exceeding 100,000 EUR(US$140,000). After a bitter 3½-hour debate, lawmakers in Ahern's three-party coalition voted to keep supporting him even though such payments break current ethics laws - and, according to opposition leaders, Ahern obstructed and told lies to the taxpayer-funded investigation. Ahern, Ireland's popular prime minister since 1997, prevailed in an 81-76 vote but faces further months of testimony to the probe.
After it turned out that Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov included the Fonbet betting company in the list of backbone enterprises that can count on state support, everyone started talking about these bookmakers.