Italy's Draghi easily wins lower house confidence vote, now fully empowered

ROME, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi easily won a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament on Thursday, the final step needed for his new government to exercise its full powers.

The Chamber of Deputies approved the confidence motion by 535 votes to 56 in the 629-seat chamber, with the far-right Brothers of Italy being the only major party to oppose the former European Central Bank president.

Draghi was sworn into office last week after a drawn-out political crisis which saw his predecessor Giuseppe Conte forced out over a coalition rupture.

He already won a confidence vote on Wednesday in the upper house Senate, where he gave his maiden speech as premier setting out his policy priorities, starting with tackling the twin coronavirus and economic crises.

The decision to support Draghi has lacerated the 5-Star Movement, the largest party in parliament, which was formed in 2009 as an anti-establishment protest group.

It has joined Draghi’s multi-party government but many of its voters and politicians still baulk at the idea of supporting a former ECB chief.

On Thursday 16 of 5-Star’s 189 deputies defied the party line by voting against Draghi. Fifteen of its 92 senators did the same thing in the upper house vote the day before.

Smaller numbers in both houses abstained or did not show up for the vote.

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