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Renzi say election-law deal can't be overhauled

PD leader plays down speculation of meeting with Berlusconi

28 January, 12:14
Renzi say election-law deal can't be overhauled (ANSA) - Rome, January 28 - Democratic Party (PD) leader Matteo Renzi said Tuesday that his proposal for a new election law could be improved but the essence of the deal he reached with centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi could not be overhauled. "Everything can be improved, but we have an agreement after years of not moving," Renzi said via his Facebook page.

"This can get Italy out of the quick sand".

Florence Mayor Renzi and representatives from Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI) are in talks over possible changes to a bill that was presented on the basis the deal between the PD chief and the three-time premier.

The proposal has come under fire from the smaller parties in parliament and parts of the PD over several issues.

These include the thresholds it sets for parties to access parliament, the system of bonus seats that would be awarded to the coalition that comes first and gets over 35% of the vote, and the fact that voters would not be able to express preferences about which candidates on a party list are elected. Renzi played down speculation he would see Berlusconi on Tuesday to try to amend the agreement he reached at a controversial meeting earlier this month with the 77-year-old billionaire - an encounter some in the PD said gave Berlusconi a sort of political rehabilitation after he was ejected from parliament last year following a definitive tax-fraud conviction.

"Today I'm in Florence to inaugurate the new cycle path in via Malibran," he said. Renzi, who has said Premier Enrico Letta's coalition government will sink if the election-law plan does not come to fruition, has pledged not to be knocked off track by the complicated Italian political games. "Now it's up to parliament," he said. "Personally, I won't let myself get caged in by the old tunes of traditional politics. "The cards are on the table, no one can bluff. If anyone wants to ruin everything, they should do it openly and explain this to the country".

Some pundits have said Renzi's uncompromising approach is justified given Italy's recent history on reforms.

Italy needs a new election law after the Constitutional Court ruled the old one invalid last month The top court intervened as the political parties failed for years to find an agreement on a new system, even though the old one, which was nicknamed the 'pigsty' and was blamed for contributing to the inconclusive outcome to last year's general election, was widely recognised to be dysfunctional.