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Govt wins confidence vote on Afghan mission extension

Decree becomes law after Senate OK

05 December, 14:55
Govt wins confidence vote on Afghan mission extension (ANSA) - Rome, December 5 - The government of centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Premier Enrico Letta comfortably won a Senate confidence vote Thursday 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 159 votes with 67 Senators voting against the decree.

The decree now becomes law.

The margin was much bigger than expected because FI boycotted the vote.

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 on a new reform agenda 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 with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement also riding high.

The government has vowed to frame a new electoral law after the one which produced an inconclusive result in February was struck down by the Constitutional Court Wednesday.