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Italy’s Populists Pass Budget After Weeks of Market Turmoil

Italy’s Populists Pass Budget After Weeks of Market Turmoil

Italy’s populist government won final parliamentary approval for its 2019 budget, barely meeting a year-end deadline after limiting discussion of the spending plans in the wake of a weeks-long clash with the European Union.

Lawmakers in the lower house voted 313 in favor and 70 against the budget, which had already been approved by the Senate. The approval came on the eve of a Dec. 31 deadline, averting a special procedure in which public spending would have had to revert to this year’s budget, with likely turmoil on financial markets.

Budget debate was curtailed in both houses of parliament, sparking opposition outrage. Lawmakers from ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia party donned blue vests with slogans like “Enough Taxes,” before being escorted from the lower house on Saturday afternoon.

The center-left Democratic Party has appealed to the country’s constitutional court in protest after government moves to ram the budget bill through parliament. The coalition has said time was limited because of lengthy negotiations with the European Commission, which helped avert fines being imposed on Italy.

The move caps weeks of nervous negotiations with the EU, which is also grappling with the departure of the U.K. next year. Financial analysts have been looking to Italy for clues about the cohesiveness of the EU itself.