ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s government won a vote of confidence in the upper house of parliament on Thursday on a decree that will make it easier for magistrates to use spyware in public sector corruption investigations.
The vote comes at a time of high friction within the coalition, with the small centrist Italia Viva sparring daily with its much larger partners, the Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement.
However, party discipline prevailed in the vote in the Senate, where Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s administration has a particularly slim majority, and the government won the motion by 156-118.
Confidence votes are often used in Italy to speed up the passage of legislation by truncating debate. If the government loses a vote of confidence, it is forced to resign.
The coalition will almost certainly have to call a confidence vote on the same bill in the lower house before the end of the month or the legislation will expire.
The law will allow magistrates to expand the use of Trojan-type software to help them prosecute crimes against public administration. It will also allow for expanded investigations if spying reveals evidence of unrelated criminal activity.
The legislation has been championed by 5-Star, which has made tackling corruption one of its top concerns. Critics of the bill say it gives magistrates too much power to spy on people’s lives.
Report by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer