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Italian government wins latest confidence vote on electoral law

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ROME (Reuters) – The Italian government on Thursday won the last of three confidence votes it had called on a contested electoral law that is likely to penalize the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in next year’s election.

The center-left coalition, supported by most mainstream opposition center-right parties, says the reform is needed to harmonize disparate voting systems in the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The so-called ‘Rosatellum’ favors parties which group together ahead of the election. The 5-Star refuses to join any alliance and says the reform could cost it at least 50 seats in the next parliament, hobbling its chances of taking power.

The bill now faces a secret ballot by the same parliamentarians in the lower house, giving dissident parliamentarians of all colors a chance to shoot it down, as happened in June to a previous electoral proposal.

It is expected to be held by Friday.

A renewed defeat would be a serious setback for Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and could trigger his resignation.

If it overcomes this hurdle, the package will still need the approval of the upper house Senate, where Gentiloni’s government does not have a stable majority.

An election is due by May 2018. Analysts say that the new system looks highly unlikely to throw up a clear parliamentary majority, with opinion polls showing the center-left, center-right and 5-Star splitting the vote three ways.

Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Philip Pullella

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