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Paolo Gentiloni wins confidence vote in parliament, takes reins of Italian government

The new Italian prime minister spoke of plans to spur economic growth and rebuild areas devastated by recent earthquakes. But critics say he needs to reform dysfunctional voting rules and rescue a troubled state bank.

New Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni won a second vote of confidence in Parliament on Wednesday, clearing the way for his government to lead the country until new elections are held - most likely in early 2017.

The Senate, the upper house of parliament, voted Wednesday to support the new government by a vote of 169-99.

A day earlier Gentiloni won support in the lower Chamber of Deputies, 368-105.

The new cabinet will largely resemble that of the former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who resigned last week after voters rejected his proposed constitutional reforms in a public referendum.

Several opposition parties boycotted the confidence vote, insisting the government had no legitimacy in light of the referendum defeat.

Gentiloni will head to the first major international meeting of his premiership - Thursday's European Council summit in Brussels - with the support of parliament and his government in place.

The prime minister's priorities

The new prime minister said his priorities will be to spur economic growth in Italy's south, rebuild parts of Italy devastated by an earthquake and help lawmakers craft a new electoral law.

But Gentiloni is widely seen as a stopgap leader whose main tasks will be to take care of urgent government business, such as reforming dysfunctional voting rules and the possible state rescue of troubled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella tapped Gentiloni to be the new head of government on Sunday, one week after voters rejected constitutional reforms in a referendum. The new leader was appointed with the departing prime minister's backing.

Under Gentiloni's helm, Italy is to gain a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council from January 1, and host a G7 summit in Sicily on May 26-27.

bik/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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