Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Italian Senate votes on electoral law

English
© ANSA

Rome, November 6 - After months of haggling over
electoral reform before next spring's elections, the Italian
Senate on Tuesday appeared poised to approve a new electoral
law, using a new rule designed to artificially achieve a clear
majority.
But the party currently leading polls, the centre-left
Democratic Party (PD), denounced the deal as actually intended
to achieve the opposite, since the bar would be set too high for
anyone to qualify for the extra boost.
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani said: "This isn't on, the PD
won't stand for it".
"Some people are afraid of us governing," he said.
PD Senate caucus leader Anna Finocchiaro said the bill, in
its present form, "wants to produce a country in which no one
wins and no one loses".
Political sources said Italian President Giorgio
Napolitano, who has repeatedly come out in favour of an
improvement on the current electoral system to ensure more
representation and 'governability', was watching the debate
closely.
The Constitutional affairs committee approved an amendment
that would provide a pro forma majority if the winning coalition
secured at least 42.5% of the vote, a much higher requirement
than was previously being touted.
If the votes in favor of the leading alliance reach 42.5%,
an additional 12.5% would be granted to achieve a 55% majority.
The PD is currently polling at around 27% and with centrist
and leftwing allies could get about 10-12% more, experts say -
leaving it short of the mark now proposed to ensure an
unassailable governing majority.
Finocchiaro and others in the PD accused ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and allies including
the regionalist Northern League of wanting to engineer an
"uncertain" outcome that could keep the centre-left out of power
and perhaps pave the way for a grand coalition in which current
premier Mario Monti might stay on.
The centrist UDC, so far the loudest advocate for Monti to
serve a second term, hailed Tuesday's "susbstantive progress
towards a deal".
"Conditions are maturing for an agreement on the electoral
law. Finally," wrote Pier Ferdinando Casini, leader of the
centrist Center Union (UDC) party, on Twitter.
Casini called the law "a work in progress" and said "the
law can be refined in the chamber. An agreement will be found".
Attempting to counter criticism from the PD, a nominal
ally, he said "it (the PD) knows full well that an agreement
will be found".
But the PD remains a hold-out against the amendment as does
the ethics-focused Italy of Values party.
"On the electoral law, coups cannot be made by spurious
majorities," added Bersani.
If the electoral law bill passes the Senate, it will then
go to the House.
A week ago President Napolitano made his latest appeal to
politicians to agree on new rules by the elections, due to take
place no later than April.
After nearly a year of stalled talks and differences at
the party level, skepticism has grown that decisive reforms
cannot be implemented in time for the vote.
The current law has been widely criticised for distancing
politicians from voters, who effectively cannot pick their
representatives, as party leaders have the power to name
candidates on so-called 'blocked lists', which are then voted
on.
As a result, candidates do not need to champion the
concerns of constituents so much but they do need to lobby
within their parties to get high enough on the lists to be
elected.

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