Key reforms win initial approval in Italy
Rome - Italy's Senate on Friday gave its initial approval to a package of key economic reforms aimed at staving off bankruptcy including state asset sell-offs and a liberalisation of local services.
Final approval of the measures by the lower house - expected on Saturday-- is the precondition set by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for his resignation after a parliamentary revolt deprived his coalition of a ruling majority.
Friday's vote was passed by 156 votes in favour, 12 against and one formal abstention, while opposition senators did not take part in the vote in order to show their objections but at the same time not hinder the approval.
The measures also include a liberalisation of professions like law and accountancy with the removal of minimum tariffs to increase competition as well as a reform to create "bureacracy free zones" for companies to grow.
Once the measures are definitively adopted and Berlusconi resigns, President Giorgio Napolitano is expected to move quickly to give a mandate to former European Union commissioner Mario Monti to form a new transition government.
Monti's possible nomination has received support from key Italian political and business leaders as well as the international community and investors.
But the nomination is not a done deal because of opposition from Berlusconi's centre-right coalition and another small party.
If attempts at forming a government fail, Napolitano would be forced to dissolve parliament and call early elections.