Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018
ROME

Italy's '10 wise men' reveal proposals to end deadlock

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo) (see related story on Berlusconi)
Rome, April 12 - The 10 experts Italian President
Giorgio Napolitano asked to prepare a government programme
capable of winning cross-party support and breaking the nation's
political impasse delivered their proposals on Friday.
The proposals included a new election system in which only
the Lower House of parliament would have political functions,
instead of the current system in which the House and Senate are
equally powerful.
Napolitano said his group of highly respected political and
institutional figures had found "common ground" and that it is
now up to the political parties to make a "similar effort of
good will for an agreement" to break the deadlock Italy has
endured since February's inconclusive general election.
The head of state, whose seven-year term ends next month,
added that he considered his efforts to end Italy's
post-election political impasse over.
"Now the word and the decisions pass over to the political
parties and whoever will be my successor to draw the
conclusions," said Napolitano, who turned to the so-called wise
men last month.
"The initiative to set up these working groups, the
mandate I gave them and the reports they produced, represent my
final contribution - on the eve of the conclusion of my mandate
and the choice of the new president - that I have been able to
give to find solutions to the problem of government after the
February 24 elections".
One of the priorities of the wise men was to find a
proposal for a new electoral law to replace the much-criticised
current system that failed to produce a clear winner two months
ago.
Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left alliance came first but
has been unable to form a government as it failed to win a
working majority in the Senate.
The wise men said the current system, in which all laws
must be approved by both the House and Senate, was "one of the
causes of our institutional system's difficulties in
functioning".
They proposed that confidence votes and definitive votes on
bills should only take place in the Lower House of parliament.
While the House will remain "political", they suggested
that the Senate become an assembly representing regional
governments.
They said a new electoral law "could foresee a mixed system
(in part proportional representation, in part
first-past-the-post) and a high threshold" for parties to enter
parliament.
The proposal also envisions a "reasonable" quota of bonus
seats to the party that comes first in elections, to ensure it
can govern, as well as the abolition of specific parliamentary
seats for Italians living abroad.
The experts said that Italy needs a law on conflicts of
interest but stressed that this should not be adopted in a
"partisan spirit".
The issue is a contentious one in Italy as many have argued
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's political role is incompatible
with him owning a massive business empire.
They said a law could be forged from proposals prepared by
Italy's antitrust authority.
They said that "public funding of political activities...is
an indispensable factor for democratic competition and to
prevent private wealth from improperly impacting political
activity".
The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which holds the
balance of power in a hung parliament, wants all public funding
of political parties scrapped after a long series of corruption
scandals.
The wise men also proposed taking the power to decide on
the eligibility of lawmakers from parliament and giving it to
"an independent, impartial judge" and forming a register for
lobbyists in both the House, Senate and regional assemblies.
"Special-interest groups perform a legitimate role, but one
that is not always transparent," they said.
They proposed asking Brussels to let Rome exceed the 3%
budget-to-GDP limit for growth-stoking investments, "especially
for projects that receive EU funds".
Another suggestion is that the number of permanent
parliamentary commissions should be cut from 22 to a maximum of
10 to save money.
The experts added that the next government should boost
Italy's social safety nets, including greater help for migrants
and the unemployed, by the summer.
"We did our homework," said a satisfied Valerio Onida, the
president of Italy's Constitutional Court and one of the wise
men.

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