Italian Prime Minister wins initial vote of confidence

Italian Prime Minister wins initial vote of confidence
By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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Paolo Gentiloni needs to win votes of confidence in both houses of parliament. He easily won the first in the lower chamber by 368 to 105.

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Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has won an initial vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament.

The 62-year-old needs to win votes of confidence in both houses of parliament. He easily won the first in the lower chamber by 368 to 105.

However, many opposition lawmakers did not take part in the ballot.

They are angry that Gentiloni has re-appointed almost all the ministers who serve under Renzi.

Foreign minister in the previous government, Gentiloni has defended his decision to bring most of his old colleagues with him into the new cabinet, saying he had to act quickly to prevent instability.

They include Renzi’s two closest allies, Maria Elena Boschi and Luca Lotti.

Italy's Prime Minister #PaoloGentiloni wins first round of confidence vote https://t.co/OadauJEB8Ipic.twitter.com/rWsdj4ES5G

— dwnews (@dwnews) December 13, 2016

What happens now?

Gentiloni faces a more difficult vote in the upper house or Senate on Wednesday.

His majority here is likely to be much smaller following a decision by a former Renzi ally not to support the new administration.

He is likely to scrape through.

However, the limited support underscores the low expectations for this government.

Many are predicting national elections in the first half of 2017, a year ahead of schedule.

Maiden speech

Making his maiden speech to parliament in his new role, the softly-spoken Gentiloni says he is prepared to support Italy’s ailing banks.

He demanded more help from the EU in coping with the influx of migrants.

“I want to say very clearly that the government is ready to intervene in order to guarantee the stability of banks and the savings of our citizens,” Gentiloni told the Chamber of Deputies.

Italy's New Premier Sets Out Priorities Before Confidence Vote https://t.co/P0QT2nsJYP

— Newz Posts (@newzpostsus) December 13, 2016

In Tuesday’s speech, Gentiloni said he would continue Renzi’s battles with the EU.

This means pushing for more flexible fiscal rules and more cooperation in sharing out the thousands of migrants who land on Italy’s shores from Africa and the Middle East.

Pledging “a very clear position” at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Gentiloni said it was “not acceptable” that the EU is “too severe on some aspects of austerity and too tolerant with countries that don’t show common responsibility on immigration.”

What the opposition say

The main opposition parties, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing Northern League, have both promised street demonstrations in the coming weeks.

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They have denounced the new executive as a “photocopy”.

“They are digging their grave with their own hands,” said Luigi Di Maio, a 5-Star deputy widely expected to be the party’s candidate for prime minister at the next election.

#Italy. Northern League and 5Stars did not take part to the confidence vote for PM Paolo Gentiloni's brand new cabinet pic.twitter.com/hQA9YUPfXd

— Italian Politics (@ItalianPolitics) December 13, 2016

Matteo Renzi

Gentiloni has taken over from former premier Matteo Renzi.

Renzi resigned last week after Italians rejected his proposed reform of the constitution in a referendum.

Italian PM matteorenzi</a> formally hands in resignation to president after Senate approval of Italy&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Budget2017?src=hash">#Budget2017</a> <a href="https://t.co/4m5vqsok9z">https://t.co/4m5vqsok9z</a> <a href="https://t.co/0sggrMeXHo">pic.twitter.com/0sggrMeXHo</a></p>&mdash; China Xinhua News (XHNews) December 8, 2016

Italy’s looming banking crisis

Italy’s biggest lender, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, is pressing on with efforst to tap the market for five billion euros of fresh cash.

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However, its chances of success appear slim. Watchers say the state is likely to have to step in.

A failure of what is the world’s oldest bank would threaten the savings of thousands of Italians.

it could also have repercussions for Italy’s wider banking sector.

This is saddled with 360 billion euros of bad loans, a third of the eurozone’s total.

Italy ready to bail out Monte dei Paschi if needed-Treasury source: https://t.co/oYoV74c7Dzpic.twitter.com/2cNyNjlo28

— Reuters Business (@ReutersBiz) December 12, 2016

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