Confidence vote on election law - govt (5)

Opponents say move affront to democracy

(ANSA) - Rome, October 10 - The cabinet has authorized a confidence vote on a bill for a new election law, sources said Tuesday, sparking the outrage of parties opposed to it.
    The government has tabled three confidence votes, on the first three of the bill's five articles.
    The first vote will take place at 15:45 tomorrow, the second tomorrow evening, and the third on Wednesday, House whips decided.
    After the government put the bill to the confidence test, members of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) shouted at Speaker Laura Boldrini, accusing her of "selling out" to the government. Democratic Party (PD) Lower House Whip Ettore Rosato had said earlier in the day that he had called Premier Paolo Gentiloni to tell him that the government should put the bill to a confidence vote to render less arduous its path through parliament. "After a meeting of the coalition parties, I called Premier Paolo Gentiloni to tell him that the opinion of the majority is that it would be opportune to have a confidence vote," Rosato said, responding to a question put by ANSA.
    "The bill is the fruit of a tough balance between the ruling majority and the opposition and putting it to secret votes would put the text as a whole into difficulty". The bill, nicknamed the Rosatellum 2 after Rosato, would harmonise the present differing laws for the House and the Senate.
    It would introduce a system that is two-thirds proportional representation and one-third first-past-the-post system aimed at favouring the emergence of a winner.
    There are fears the next general election, expected early in 2018, could be inconclusive with the current laws.
    The bill has the backing of the ruling PD, Silvio Berlusconi's opposition centre-right Forza Italia, the Northern League and the small centrist Popular Alternative (AP) group.
    But the M5S has rejected it, saying the bill is designed to stop them winning, and some small groups on the left are also against.
    M5S Lower House whip Simone Valente said Tuesday that a confidence vote would be a "subversive act against democracy, the freedom to vote and citizens' sovereignty". "All of this is with the complicity of the Northern League and Forza Italia which, on paper, are in the opposition, but actually are part of a big, shameful shady deal against the public," he said.
    Roberto Speranza, the coordinator of the leftwing MDP group, also warned against putting the bill to a confidence vote.
    "Putting the the election law to a confidence vote shortly before parliament is dissolved (for elections) goes beyond the limits of democracy," said Speranza. "We are playing with fire here - a law that takes away the citizens' sovereignty to choose those elected gets approved by taking sovereignty away from parliament. I don't want to believe that it is true". Leftwing parties will protest against the government's decision to put its election-law bill to a confidence vote at 17:30 outside the Pantheon in Rome Wednesday, Arturo Scotto of the MDP said.
    MDP heavyweight and former head of the PD, Pier Luigi Bersani, said tomorrow the left would be outside the Pantheon demonstrating "for democracy".
    The MDP split from the PD over long-running and deep disagreements with leader Matteo Renzi, the former premier.
    Nicola Fratoianni, leader of the Italian Left (SI) party, called the confidence votes "the umpteenth disgrace of this legislature". President Sergio Mattarella, meanwhile, welcomed parliament's effort to pass a new election law, while expressing no judgement about the bill being examined, sources at the head of State's office said on Tuesday. The president hopes that a new election law is passed with the broadest possible support and is not making any assessments about an eventual decision to put a bill to a confidence vote, which regards the relationship between the government and parliament, the sources said.