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Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni wins first round of confidence vote

Paolo Gentiloni has been approved by Italy's lower house of parliament. The new premier has come under fire for building a government that too closely resembles that of former leader Matteo Renzi.

Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni survived the first stage of a confidence vote on Tuesday despite an opposition outcry over his "photocopied" cabinet. The lower-house Chamber of Deputies voted 368-105 in favor of the former foreign minister.

The far-right Lega Nord and left-leaning populists of the Five-Star Movement (M5S) abstained from the vote. They have both accused Gentiloni and the Democratic Party (PD) of ignoring the will of the Italian people by staying in power. Alongside other opposition voices, they have argued that the clear defeat of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's proposed constitutional reforms on December 4 was a sign that Italy no longer trusted the PD's leadership. 

Renzi resigned after the vote, and President Sergio Mattarella moved to stave off chaos by appointing Gentiloni.

Five-Star Movement prepares mass protest

To the outrage of opposition parties, Gentiloni then proceeded to reshuffle many of Renzi's high-ranking cabinet members.

"While the former ministers are replicating themselves like Body Snatchers, the Five-Star Movement will be in the streets on January 24 for a large demonstration in defense of the sovereignty and dignity of our people," wrote M5S spokesman Beppe Grillo on his popular blog.

Gentiloni has defended his decision, saying "I did my best to form a government in the briefest time."

The prime minister must now go through a second round of voting in the upper house Senate on Wednesday.

He will likely face a tougher time, however, as the Liberal-Popular Alliance for Autonomies (ALA) has refused to back the new premier. Reportedly, their request for ALA members to be given cabinet positions fell on deaf ears. ALA and its allies have the means to rob Gentiloni of the necessary majority.

es/jm (AP, dpa, Reuters)