Italian Senate votes to slash its size and powers

Italian Senate Italy's Senate has voted to lessen its own authority

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Senators in Italy have voted in favour of sweeping reforms that could lead to a dramatic reduction in the size and power of the upper house of parliament.

The reforms have been spearheaded by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as part of a plan to lift Italy out of recession.

They aim to make the Senate an unelected body, less able to challenge laws proposed in the lower house.

However, the reforms will require more debate - and a possible referendum - before being passed into law.

Friday's move has been preceded by a lengthy battle in parliament.

According to Reuters news agency, the run-up to the vote saw nearly 8,000 amendments tabled by opposition parties, amid furious shouting matches.

The debate over the reforms has diverted the government's attention, correspondents say, amid a prolonged economic crisis.

Italy, the euro zone's third-largest economy, slipped back into recession in the second quarter of this year, according to figures released this week.

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