Italy government calls confidence vote on austerity

ROME Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:37pm GMT

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti gestures during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome December 15, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti gestures during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome December 15, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's government on Wednesday asked for a vote of confidence in the upper house to seal approval of a 33-billion euro (27 billion pound) austerity package.

The vote is expected for early Thursday afternoon. The package passed in the lower house last week and is expected to succeed just as easily in the upper house. Were Monti to lose the vote, his government would collapse.

The opposition Northern League blew police whistles as Piero Giarda, minister for relations with parliament, asked for the vote.

Senate Speaker Renato Schifani threatened to discipline the League members, who have been contesting each step of the austerity package that Monti says is vital to save the country from financial ruin.

"This is not a stadium, this is parliament," Schifani shouted. "Shame on you! We have really hit rock bottom. This is a disgrace."

(Reporting By Philip Pullella)