Italy's Senate to hold confidence vote that includes Olympic financing

Italy's Senate holds a confidence vote Thursday tied to a measure that includes financing for next month's Turin Winter Olympics. The vote was expected later Thursday. If approved, the measure must pass to the lower house for final approval.

Italian governments resort to confidence votes in hopes of speeding passage of legislation and closing ranks among coalition lawmakers. If the government loses the vote, it must resign. Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.

The measure would offer convicted drug addicts more alternatives to jail and would reduce the minimum prison sentences for dealers. It is attached to a decree passed last month by the government to help cover a Ђ80 million (US$96 million) budget shortfall for the Winter Games with measures including a scratch-card lottery that should produce Ђ20 million (US$24 million) in revenue, reports the AP. I.L.

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