House approves cutting vitalizi

'Historic day' says Di Maio

(ANSA) - Rome, July 12 - The Lower House on Thursday approved cutting 'vitalizi' parliamentary pensions. The Speaker's office OK'd a deliberation from Speaker Roberto Fico of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S).
    Fico said the deliberation envisages that the cut for former MPs would go into effect on January 1 next year.
    It is unclear whether Senate Speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, a member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right opposition Forza Italia (FI) party, will keep blocking the measure in the Upper House. M5S leader, Labour and Industry Minister and Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio, asked if the Senate would follow suit, said "ask Casellati".
    Di Maio said "today is a historic day.
    "At long last, the dream has become reality," he told M5S members.
    "At last it has arrived, today is the day that Italians had been waiting for 60 years, the historic moment which we have gifted our citizens after 100 days of government," Di Maio told them.
    The M5S MPs immediately feted the move by fanning out into parliament square holding yellow balloons, their party colour, and popping champagne corks. House Speaker Fico said "I'm not giving up and I'll never give up". He said "today we have repaired a social injustice and therefore a wound".
    Fico said he was not afraid of suits on "acquired rights" to the Constitutional Court.
    "The deliberation is constitutional", he said.
    He predicted that the Senate would follow suit.
    "The Senate will make its assessments and will go forward and will come to a similar conclusion," he said after the foot-dragging from Casellati.
    The vitalizi were seen as a symbol of unacceptable privilege on the part of former MPs, who got large pensions even after attending parliament for a very short time.
    The M5S had vowed to cut them for some time.
    Di Maio also said that so-called 'golden pensions' above 4,000 euros a month would be cut.
    He said they would be cut "for those who have not paid in enough contributions".