June 25, 2015 / 9:35 AM / in 3 years

Italy's Renzi calls Senate confidence vote on schools reform

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi sought a vote of confidence on Thursday in the upper house Senate over a fiercely contested education reform bill, seeking to overcome thousands of amendments tabled by opposition parties.

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi arrives to attend a Eurozone emergency summit on Greece in Brussels, Belgium June 22, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Renzi, whose popularity has slumped in recent months, would be forced to resign if he lost the confidence vote, though this is considered extremely unlikely. On paper he can count on a majority of around 15 votes in the 315 seat Senate, where the vote will be held at around 1200 ET.

Confidence votes are often employed by governments in Italy as a way of pushing through legislation, because they truncate discussion over amendments. Renzi’s 16 month-old administration has resorted to them particularly frequently.

The bill, presented by the center government in March, includes increased powers for school managers over hiring and promotions, tax breaks for private schools, and the permanent hiring of some 100,000 supply teachers.

It is opposed by most teachers’ unions, which have held strikes and protests, as well as by the parliamentary opposition and a minority of Renzi’s own Democratic Party. The powers to be given to non-teaching school managers are particularly contentious.

If the bill passes the Senate in Thursday’s vote it must return to the Chamber of Deputies for a final reading. Renzi aims to have it definitively approved in the first half of July.

Reporting by Roberto Landucci, Writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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