No vote after reform referendum - Renzi

Premier says illegal immigration must be decriminalised

(ANSA) - Rome, January 12 - Premier Matteo Renzi said Tuesday that his government has no plans to call an early general election after a referendum is held on its flagship Constitutional reform to overhaul Italy's political machinery later this year. "It's the president's decision, but the government intends to go on until the end of the parliamentary term (in 2018) because the idea that the natural time frames should be respected is a principle of good sense," Renzi told Repubblica TV, the internet channel of Rome-based daily La Repubblica. Renzi said that the campaign for the referendum on whether to ratify the Constitutional reform will start in April. Renzi, who has staked his political career on pushing through the reform, has said the referendum will take place in October after the bill has been approved in parliament. "The referendum campaign will start immediately in April," Renzi said. "I don't think it will be easy and I've said that if I lose, not only will I resign, but I will also quit politics.
    "It's not an attempt to turn the referendum into a personal vote, but the way to apply a principle - those who govern have responsibility". The package includes the transformation of the Senate into a leaner assembly of 95 local-government representatives, plus five members nominated by the president, with limited powers to save money and make passing legislation easier.
    The move is highly controversial and opposition parties are seeking to organise a separate referendum to scrap the reform, saying Renzi wants to turn the other vote into a poll on him and his executive, rather on the merits of the package.
    Renzi also said Tuesday that the crime of illegal immigration was useless while reiterating that decriminalising entering Italy illegally will not be on the agenda of the next cabinet meeting. "The crime of illegal immigration, which serves for nothing, will be scrapped but only when the government has a clear package on issue to make the expulsion process faster," he told Repubblica TV.
    Silvio Berlusconi's third government made entering Italy illegally a crime in 2009, but the law has been blamed for clogging up the legal system as Italy deals with an increasingly large waves of arrivals from North Africa. On Monday Renzi said the issue would not be addressed in the next cabinet meeting as people at the moment feel unsafe.
    But the head of Italy's Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), the judiciary's self-governing body, said the sooner the law is changed the better. "This crime did not live up to expectations and sometimes constitutes an obstacle to human trafficking investigations," Giovanni Legnini said Like Renzi, Justice Minister Andrea Orlando said Tuesday that illegal immigration must be decriminalised as part of a comprehensive reform of the regulations regarding asylum seekers. "It must be done," Justice Minister Andrea Orlando told La 7 television when asked about the issue. "With the interior ministry we are considering a comprehensive intervention that regards repatriations, the time scales for recognising refugee status - the abolition of the crime can be part of that package. "The crime of illegal immigration has created a mechanism that frequently hampers the repatriation process".
   

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