Compromise Italian budget given approval
The Italian government won a gruelling vote of confidence on its 2019 budget in the country's upper house in the early hours yesterday, as it races to get the package approved before a year-end deadline.
The budget now has to be approved by the lower house of parliament by December 31 so it can take effect from the start of the new year.
The government of the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and the right-wing League won the vote 167-78, with three abstentions.
Last Wednesday, the European Commission reached a deal with Italy over its 2019 budget after months of verbal sparring, avoiding disciplinary steps against Rome.
But the changes led to extensive re-drafting, and on Saturday a final text only arrived in the Senate at the last minute, which triggered uproar among opposition lawmakers.
The Democratic Party said it would ask a top Italian court to rule on the constitutionality of the move, claiming there had been no time to debate the law in detail.
"The budget law is a joke," former prime minister and PD member Matteo Renzi said on Saturday.
But yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Facebook that reaching a deal with the European Union had inevitably meant more time had been needed to get the budget measures before parliament.
"I am counting on the budget being finally approved on December 27-28," he said.