Italy PM Renzi wins confidence vote, pledges tax cuts, reform


Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won his first confidence vote in parliament, pledging to cut labor taxes, free up funds for investment in schools and pass wide institutional reforms to tackle Italy’s economic malaise, the Voice of America reports.
Facing parliament for the first time, the 39-year-old Renzi, who is Italy’s youngest premier, sketched out an ambitious program of change in an hour-long speech delivered in his trademark quick-fire style, interspersed with occasional jeers from the opposition benches.
“If we lose this challenge, the fault will be mine alone,” he told the Senate. The eurozone’s third-largest economy is in urgent need of potentially painful reforms and is weighed down by a 2-trillion-euro public debt.
Backed by his own center-left Democratic Party (PD), the small center-right NCD party, centrists and other minor groups, Renzi won the backing of the upper house by 169 votes to 139 in a vote taken in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The outgoing mayor of Florence, who won the leadership of the PD in December, forced his party rival Letta to resign as prime minister earlier this month after repeatedly criticizing his government’s record.
Renzi promised sound public finances, which he said was a duty Italy owed to its own children rather than to its European Union partners. But he offered little detail and did not say whether his government would seek any easing in tight EU budget limits, as he has suggested in the past.
President Barack Obama telephoned Renzi on Monday, welcoming the new government’s reform agenda and its focus on jobs and growth, Renzi’s office said in a statement.

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