Italy’s Berlusconi Survives Austerity Confidence Vote

Posted September 7th, 2011 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has survived a confidence vote in the Senate over his government’s $76 billion austerity plan to stave off the country’s financial crisis.

Parliament’s upper chamber voted Wednesday night after days of debate over the government’s plan to cut spending and raise taxes. The government is trying to trim its debts, cut its high borrowing costs and avoid the need for an international bailout like those already secured by Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

But the austerity plan has proved to be controversial, leading millions of workers to walk off their jobs in an eight-hour general strike Tuesday in protest.

European financial officials demanded that Rome adopt the austerity plan to support the stability of the euro currency used by 17 nations.

The austerity plan would boost Italy’s value added tax one percentage point to 21 percent, impose a 3 percent tax on those with incomes above $422,000 and increase the retirement age for women from 60 to 65. Parliament’s lower house plans to vote on it later this month.