ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Friday he would call a new confidence vote in parliament to confirm his government's majority after the withdrawal of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party from the ruling coalition.
Letta's comment came days after his government won a confidence vote on the 2014 budget in the Senate comfortably by 171 votes to 135, despite Forza Italia formalizing its move to the opposition by voting against the coalition.
Speaking on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Lithuania, Letta said the vote would be held after his center-left Democratic Party elects a new leader on December 8 and would be based on a new agenda for 2014 which would be discussed with coalition partners.
"The confidence vote that the government will seek from parliament after the events which led to Forza Italia leaving will strengthen the government," said Letta, whose coalition is backed by his Democratic Party, a centrist group and a center-right group which broke away from Forza Italia.
Letta said he would press on with reforms to stimulate Italy's stagnant economy but said he also intended to push for institutional measures, including a change to a widely criticized electoral law, which the squabbling political parties have failed to reform despite years of arguing.
On Thursday, President Giorgio Napolitano met representatives from Forza Italia who have demanded that Letta appear before parliament for a new formal test of confidence.
Following the meeting Napolitano issued a statement saying a "parliamentary passage" would have to be held to mark the shift from the "grand coalition" which emerged from a deadlocked election in February to the one which just won the budget vote.
Letta is due to meet Napolitano on Monday to discuss the timing and formal details of the vote.
(Reporting By James Mackenzie; editing by Francesca Landini and Gareth Jones)