ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won the third of three confidence votes on a fiercely contested new electoral law in parliament on Thursday, moving a step closer to passing a reform he has staked his reputation on.
The motion passed in the Chamber of deputies with 342 votes in favor and 15 against. Most opposition lawmakers as well as numerous dissidents in Renzi's own Democratic Party (PD) refused to take part in the vote as a sign of protest.
The bill assigns a heavy majority to the winning party with the aim of ensuring that a clear victor emerges from an election.
Opponents criticize the merits of the reform and are even more angry about Renzi's decision to force it through in confidence votes, overriding the objections of the all the opposition parties and part of the PD.
If the government loses a confidence vote it is obliged to resign.
Following the three confidence votes on separate articles of the reform, a final vote is due on Monday next week to bring the whole package into law.
Reporting By Gavin Jones