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Govt wins confidence vote on Afghan mission extension

Letta has big majority in House

03 December, 18:22
Govt wins confidence vote on Afghan mission extension (ANSA) - Rome, December 3 - The government of centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Premier Enrico Letta comfortably won a House confidence vote Tuesday on extending Italian missions abroad including in Afghanistan.

Letta, who enjoys a big majority in the House but a much smaller one in the Senate after the recent defection of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's reanimated Forza Italia (FI) party, secured 360 votes with 209 MPs voting against the decree.

Since FI's exit last month the PD is ruling with former members of Berlusconi's now-defunct People of Freedom (PdL) party, led by Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano, who have formed the New Centre Right (NCD) party. The smaller but more cohesive government will face a key confidence test in the Senate December 11 where its majority on paper is about a dozen.

The NCD broke with Berlusconi after refusing to bring the government down when the PD insisted on applying an anti-corruption law to oust the three-time premier from the Senate on a tax-fraud conviction.

It will stand with FI in Italy's next general election, which most pundits expect to come in early 2015.

Polls currently show the centre right ahead of the centre left.