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Napolitano meets Renzi on electoral reform

Other institutional reforms also 'a priority'

11 December, 13:11
Napolitano meets Renzi on electoral reform (ANSA) - Rome, December 11 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano met Wednesday with newly elected Democratic Paty (PD) leader Matteo Renzi to discuss a new electoral law after the old one was struck down by the Constitutional Court last week.

Renzi, leader of Italy's largest party, has said he wants to involve the whole of parliament to achieve a reform at the expected end of the current PD-led left-right government in early 2015.

Napolitano has been pressing for a quicker reform.

The so-called 'pig-sty' law, blamed for the political instability that has plagued Italy in the last few years, was ruled unconstitutional because of a huge bonus it gives to the winner in the House and because it does not allow voters to choose their MPs. This now formally leaves Italy with proportional representation.

Napolitano and Renzi also discussed other institutional reform "priorities", the president's office said. These include stripping the Senate of its equal lawmaking status with the House, a reform Renzi has said he wants to move more quickly on to help fulfill a pledge to cut the costs of a hugely expensive political system that has alienated many voters by one billion euros. The present electoral law led to an inconclusive result in February's general election, because the PD did not get a majority in the Senate.

Napolitano broke a two-month post-election deadlock, in which the PD vainly tried to woo the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of former comedian Beppe Grillo, by cobbling together an unnatural coalition between the PD and its long-time foe, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party.

The fractious alliance collapsed when some PdL members broke off to form the New Centre Right (NCD) after putting the government before Berlusconi's demand to sink the executive because of the PD's insistence on applying an anti-corruption law to eject Berlusconi from the Senate after a tax-fraud conviction.

The smaller PD-NCD coalition is facing confidence votes Wednesday while Berlusconi, at the helm of his revived Forza Italia party, is trying to bring the government down, even appealing to Grillo and trying to exploit a new 'Pitchfork' protest movement against graft, corruption and EU-mandated austerity which has brought together farmers, small businessmen, truckers and rightist elements across the country.