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Court releases reasons for judging law unconstitutional


Rome, January 14 - Italy's parliament is legitimate
and can continue to operate even though existing electoral law
is unconstitutional and must be changed, the Constitutional
Court said in its written judgment released Tuesday.
Last month, the court rejected the election law but did not
immediately file the complete reasons behind its decision. The
detailed reasoning behind its December 4 ruling has now been
made public on the court's website.
Since that ruling against Italy's "Porcellum" or "pig-sty"
electoral law, Premier Enrico Letta has promised to change the
rules concerning voting before European Parliament elections at
the end of May.
Late last year, Letta also pledged that all Constitutional
reforms will be put to a referendum.
The current law struck down by the Constitutional Court has
been widely judged responsible for making election results
uncertain, as happened in last February's inconclusive vote.
The court ruled that a mechanism in the existing law
granting a huge bonus to the winner in the House election was
contrary to the fairness doctrine enshrined in Italy's postwar
founding document, its Constitution.
Second, and for the same reasons, the court ruled against a
system that prevents voters from picking their representatives
in constituencies.
Since the law was introduced in 2006, party leaders have
put hand-picked candidates on so-called 'blocked lists' which
were then voted on, with the top names entering parliament
according to the percentage of the vote won.
Letta, of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), has made
electoral law reform a top priority for his smaller but more
cohesive government formed late last year with the New Centre
Right (NCD), a splinter group from Silvio Berlusconi's recently
disbanded People of Freedom (PdL) party.
The NCD broke away when it refused to sink Letta after the
PD insisted on applying an anti-corruption law to oust
Berlusconi from the Senate on a tax-fraud conviction late last
Berlusconi's revived Forza Italia (FI) party then went into
Many officials have rejected claims from FI and the biggest
opposition group, former comedian Beppe Grillo's
anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), that parliament had
lost its legitimacy because of the Constitutional Court's
"Parliament is fully legitimate, the court itself does not
call that into doubt," Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said
after the initial ruling.
He stressed that, in its ruling, the court said it was up
to parliament to frame a new law.
The Porcellum worked against any party getting a solid
majority in the Senate, which has equal lawmaking status with
the House.
Reforming the Senate so it does not have equal lawmaking
status with the House is also one of the priorities for the
government in 2014, Letta has said.

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