Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling coalition has won a confidence vote on an unpopular
25-billion euro austerity package designed to shore up Italy’s strained public finances.
The centre-right government won the vote in the Senate by 170 votes to 136.
The package, including cuts in public sector pay and 8.5 billion euros of reductions in regional funds has enraged hard-pressed local governments which say they won’t be able to provide proper health and education services.
Berlusconi had warned dissenters within his own party that the government would resign unless the austerity package was approved.
He said the measures are essential to bring Italy’s budget deficit down from 5.3 per cent of GDP to 2.7 per cent by 2012 – in line with European Union requirements.
The budget will now go before the lower house of parliament for approval before the end of the month.