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Italy's govt wins confidence vote amidst coalition tensions

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Italy's govt wins confidence vote amidst coalition tensions

Italy's govt wins confidence vote amidst coalition tensions
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REMO CASILLI(Reuters)
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ROME (Reuters) - Italy's coalition government won a confidence vote on Wednesday in the upper house Senate on a contested security decree amidst growing tensions between the two ruling parties over a raft of issues.

The bill, championed by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is head of the far-right League, tightens immigration regulations, limits the right to asylum, and bolsters anti-terrorism and anti-mafia rules.

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A few members of the League's coalition ally, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, refused to back the measure. Despite this, the government won the vote easily by 163 to 59, with 19 abstentions.

Had it lost the motion, it would have been forced to resign and the decision to call the vote signalled turbulence within the coalition, which took office in June and has shaken financial markets with its economic policies.

While the security bill caused some internal discomfort, there is greater friction within the government over efforts by the 5-Star to loosen time limits imposed on the prosecution of numerous crimes, including corruption.

The League argues that easing the time constraints, known as the statute of limitations, means defendants could face unacceptably long legal cases.

Five-Star says that as things stand too many cases are rubbed out without a verdict being reached, and this lengthens trials because defendants have an incentive to drag out proceedings to reach the statute of limitations.

Italian newspapers reported on Wednesday growing frustration within both coalition parties, but Salvini looked to calm the tensions ahead of the confidence vote.

"The government is absolutely not at risk. We will honour the commitments we made with the Italians one by one. Full stop," he said in a statement. "Everything can be sorted out with common sense and humility."

(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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