Italy govt wins lower house confidence vote on budget against EU wishes

ROME, Dec 7 - The Italian government on Friday comfortably won a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies on its expansionary 2019 budget, which the European Commission has said breaches EU public finance rules.

The budget raises the deficit to 2.4 percent of gross domestic product next year from 1.8 percent this year. Brussels says it breaks previous commitments to reduce borrowing and will not lower Italy's large public debt.

The government of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League won the vote by 330 to 219.

The coalition called the vote as a way to hasten the parliamentary passage of the budget, which will now move to the Senate. It must be passed in both houses by the end of the year.

After weeks of confrontational rhetoric, Italian ministers and the European Commission have recently softened their tone and said a compromise needs to be found.

For this reason, the budget will probably undergo changes in the Senate, and the deficit target lowered to 2.2 percent or lower, political sources have told Reuters.

Confidence motions are frequently used by Italian governments to push through legislation by truncating debate and voting on hundreds of amendments.

If the government loses a confidence vote it is forced to resign. But this was never a risk in the Chamber, where the coalition has an ample built-in majority.