Italian Parliament Approves Latest Austerity Plan

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 12:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The Italian government has overwhelmingly won a crucial parliamentary vote of confidence Friday over an austerity package intended to help the third largest economy in the eurozone get its finances in order.

The lower house of parliament voted 495-88 in favor of a nearly $40 billion austerity package Friday, with the upper house voting next week.

Prime Minister Mario Monti's technocratic government has broad support in both houses and has pushed through a series of tax hikes, spending cuts and pension reform to bring Italy's budget in line by 2013.

Democratic Party lawmaker Livia Turco said her party had supported the measure after pressing for changes to make it more fair.

“We think that the austerity package that Prime Minister Monti has presented is necessary because – as it is well-known in the whole world – Italy is particularly at risk in this crisis. We gave our contribution as democratic party, so this package would be more fair, so we have tried to protect the weaker parts of the population.”

But Claudio D'Amico of the Northern League complained that residents of northern Italy are being asked to pay too much.

“Because we believe that this government is not serving the interests of the whole country and above all, of all the citizens in the north who have paid and with this austerity package they will have to pay even more.”

Mr. Monti was appointed last month to replace longtime Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr. Berlusconi stepped down just before Italy began considering the austerity measures to avoid a debt crisis.