Italy's parliament approves government of new PM Gentiloni

Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni looks on before a confidence vote at the Senate in Rome, Italy December 14, 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Italy's new prime minister looks out upon the Senate before the crucial vote

Italy's new prime minister has won the backing of the Italian parliament, enabling his coalition government to formally take office.

Paolo Gentiloni and his government received the approval of the Senate, having secured a vote of confidence in the lower house on Tuesday.

The new government, with many of the same ministers, will now serve until fresh elections are held.

Matteo Renzi resigned as PM last week after losing a referendum.

He had pledged to stand down if his plebiscite for the approval of political reforms did not go his way.

Mr Gentiloni, the 62-year-old former foreign minister and Renzi ally, was asked to form a government by the country's president on Sunday, avoiding short-term political instability.

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Some opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary approval process for the new government, saying it had no legitimacy in light of the referendum defeat.

They have called for immediate elections, but President Sergio Mattarella has said the current electoral rules must be revised first, so both houses of parliament use the same system.

A new electoral system was approved last year, but does not yet apply to the Senate.

The next election must be held by May 2018.

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