Italia wins confidence vote tied to Olympic funding - 7 February, 2006

Italy 's government won a confidence vote in the lower house of parliament Tuesday tied to financing for the Winter Olympics in Turin . Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government drew up the measure to help cover an 80 million euros (US$96 million) budget shortfall for the Winter Games, which start Friday and end Feb. 26.

The measure, which passed in the Chamber of Deputies 307-207, won approval in the Senate late last month. It includes a scratch-card lottery that should produce 20 million euros (US$24.1 million) in revenue.

The measure is attached to a broader bill on drug use, which would offer convicted drug addicts more alternatives to jail and would reduce the minimum prison sentences for dealers.

The government put the measures to a confidence vote, trying to ensure the swift passage of a flurry of legislation before parliament is dissolved at the end of the week, ahead of April elections.

Italian governments use confidence votes to speed up legislation and close ranks among coalition lawmakers. If the government loses the vote, it must resign.

Berlusconi's conservatives enjoy comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament, reports the AP.

D.M.