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Second confidence test coming for Renzi government

'Then we'll start working' pledges premier via @matteorenzi

25 February, 11:52
Second confidence test coming for Renzi government (ANSA) - Rome, February 25 - Premier Matteo Renzi's government faces the second of two parliamentary confidence votes in the Lower House on Tuesday after the new executive was sworn in at the weekend.

The leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) saw his administration win the backing of the Senate early on Tuesday, with 169 votes in favour and 139 against. "OK in the Senate, now the House," Renzi, Italy's youngest premier at 39, posted on his Twitter account, @matteorenzi.

"Then we'll start working seriously. Tomorrow (visiting) schools, workers, entrepreneurs, mayors in Treviso". The premier made a little history by opening his laptop computer during the debate in the House ahead of the confidence vote and turning in on, making him the first premier to do so from the government benches.

The PD has a majority in the House, unlike the Senate, where Renzi needed the support of coalition partners to pass the confidence test there as his party did not obtain full control of the Upper House at last year's inconclusive general election.

Renzi leads a team of 16 ministers, eight of them women, with an average age of 47, also the youngest ever. During his speech in the Senate on Monday, Renzi outlined an ambitious reform programme to streamline government and jump start the economy, which is slowly emerging from its longest postwar recession, in order to cut record unemployment and help increasing numbers of 'new poor'.

This included income and labour tax cuts, an overhaul of the justice system, a job-creation drive, a new election law to replace the dysfunctional old system declared invalid in December and Constitutional changes to strip the Upper House of its law-making powers and make passing legislation easier. "Italy needs to have the courage to make radical choices," he told the Senate Monday, describing unemployment rates of over 12% as "merciless and devastating".

"If we lose, we will not seek alibis," he added. "If we fail to meet the challenge, the blame will be purely mine. The time must end in which in the palaces of power an excuse can be found".

Renzi took power after torpedoing the coalition executive of his predecessor and PD colleague Enrico Letta less than two weeks ago for moving too slowly on reforms. He will now have the arduous job of delivering those reforms while working with the same fractious alliance Letta had. He is Italy's third straight unelected premier. Deals between parties led to the creation of Letta's administration last year and the emergency technocrat government of Mario Monti in 2011.

Although Renzi's government comfortably passed the first confidence test in the Senate, a small alarm bell came from the margin on victory.

The total of 169 votes in favour was four less than Letta obtained in a vote on December 11 after ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia pulled its support from the government of Renzi's predecessor.