Rome: Italy`s parliament on Wednesday approved
unpopular budget cuts as part of conservative Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi`s efforts to rein in a ballooning public
deficit and reassure markets.
The measures totalling 25 billion euros (USD 32 billion),
approved by the Senate two weeks ago, passed by 329 to 275,
and a final budget vote must be held by midday tomorrow.
The ballot was in the form of a vote of confidence in
Berlusconi`s centre-right government, a much-criticised
parliamentary manoeuvre used with increasing frequency as a
way of minimising dissent within majority ranks.
The billionaire leader, although flagging in opinion
surveys, has comfortable majorities in both houses of
What Berlusconi has called "essential sacrifices to save
Italy`s future" have sparked protests and strikes among a
cross-section of Italian society including judges, diplomats,
civil servants, public sector doctors and museum curators.
The two-year austerity package was adopted in late May
when markets were jittery over eurozone economies as Greece`s
public finance crisis sparked fears of a domino effect.