Premier Matteo Renzi's government has won a confidence vote in Parliament on his electoral reform proposal that has badly divided his Democratic Party.

Wednesday's 352-207 vote with one abstention was the first of three ballots on various articles in the bill that Renzi's government has put to a confidence vote to help guarantee passage in the lower Chamber of Deputies. If the legislation is voted down, Renzi's government must resign.

Thirty-eight of the 310 Democrats in the chamber voted against the bill in a sign of division within the party over Renzi's leadership. Renzi thanked those lawmakers who voted in favor, saying in a tweet that "the road is still long but this is the right time."

The legislation is aimed at making more stable, longer-lasting governments.