Ius soli, vitalizi bills 'sunk' (4)

Won't make it by the end of term

(ANSA) - Rome, December 20 - Two key bills, on citizenship for immigrant children and cutting parliamentary 'vitalizi' pensions, are set to be excluded from the parliamentary schedule for the remainder of the legislative term, whips said Wednesday.
    The citizenship bill, dubbed 'ius soli' (Latin for 'law of the soil'), was promised by the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) but it has now realised that it cannot muster a majority behind it because of opposition from its centrist junior partner Popular Alternative.
    The government would therefore risk falling if it put the widely called-for bill to a confidence vote.
    The bill would grant citizenship rights to the children of regular immigrants who have spent at least five years in the Italian school system.
    Currently these kids have to wait until they're 18 to apply for citizenship.
    The bill would cut that to 10 or 12.
    Centre-right and rightist parties have sought, successfully, to link the bill to Italy's migrant crisis, falsely suggesting that citizenship would be given to any kid arriving on Italian shores.
    PD Senate Whip Luigi Zanda said Wednesday "there is not a majority behind the bill in the Upper House".
    The head of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, said "citizenship is a fundamental right for the human person". The vitalizi bill was strongly pushed by the opposition, anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which has used it in its campaign to depict traditional parties as wedded to perks and privilege, as well as dogged by corruption.
    In July the Lower House approved the bill to scrap 'vitalizi' parliamentary pensions, including for former lawmakers.
    Vitalizi can be accrued after just one term in office and have more generous conditions than ordinary State pensions.
    For many the system has come to symbolise the privileges Italy's ruling political 'caste' gives itself.
    The bill then moved to the Senate, where it bogged down amid general footdragging.
    If approved, the bill would have meant the pensions of former parliamentarians is calculated on the basis of the social security contributions paid in and, from the next parliamentary term, the retirement age will be the same as for normal State pensions.
    The bill was proposed by Matteo Richetti, a leading member of the PD.
    The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) also voted in favour, despite frequent rows with the PD about the issue, as did the right-wing anti-migrant Northern League.
    Silvio Berlusconi's opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI) did not take part in the vote, arguing the bill was unconstitutional as it works retroactively.
    The head of social security and pensions agency INPS, Tito Boeri, called on the House and the Senate to "make public the data regarding contributions paid by parliamentarians".
    He said this was important for transparency in order to have "informed debate".