Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti won a confidence vote in the Lower House on Friday to speed the passage of a 30 billion euro ($39 billion) austerity package aimed at speeding up the implementation of urgent measures that would stimulate growth in Italy's economy.
Monti called the vote in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome after requesting an end to debate -- there has been disagreement between the main political parties on some of the measures -- which call for tax increases and spending cuts. The vote passed with a large majority of 495 votes to 88. The measures will now go to the Senate, which is set to vote them before Christmas, The New York Times reported.
Had it been blocked, Monti -- who only came into office last month -- and his government of technocrats would have been forced to resign.
The measures, Monti said, will help protect Italy from being the next victim in the wide-reaching debt crisis and bring down record borrowing costs. The Treasury had to pay 6.47 percent to sell five-year debt on Dec. 14, the most in more than 14 years.
Europe's response to the debt crisis should be wrapped in a long-term sustainable approach, not just to feed short-term hunger for rigor in some countries, Monti said.
To help European construction evolve in a way that unites, not divides, we cannot afford that the crisis in the Eurozone brings us ... the risk of conflicts between the virtuous North and an allegedly vicious South, he said.
The plan is intended to balance the budget by 2013.
In order to get the confidence vote, Monti had to compromise on a number of the measure's elements - particularly from the party of the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi -- by dropping from the $40 billion package of spending cuts and revenue increases, including a wealth tax and the speedy liberalization of closed professions like taxi drivers and pharmacists, a plan that drew protests, the New York Times wrote.
Amid protests from the left and labor union, Monti also accepted changes to the plan to ease a pension freeze and the impact of property tax on families, saying he wanted to make sure the measures were equitable, not only for Italy, but for young people and women.
In Italian society, there is no division between left and right; there's a division between those who are inside or outside some organized groups, said Sergio Fabbrini, the director of the School of Government at Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. All the main political parties from left to right represent the insiders. The left represents the pensioners, the trade unions. The right represents various insiders: the lawyers' organizations, notaries.
The only way for young people and women to be represented is to have a technical government, he added, but of course a technical government will have to pass through the approval of the Parliament. And here again the insiders are well organized.