(By Christopher Livesay)
(ANSA) - Rome, February 6 - The head of Italy's largest
party laid out his plan for a leaner and weaker Upper House on
Matteo Renzi, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party
(PD), said that the reformed Senate of Italy's parliament will
have 150 members, according to a draft reform drawn up after he
reached a deal with centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi last
The Senate is set to become a chamber of regions and be
largely stripped of its lawmaking powers as part of reforms
designed to make Italy easier to govern and reduce the cost of
the country's political apparatus.
The Upper House currently has 315 elected members plus five
After reforms it would be made up of regional officials,
including mayors and regional governers, as well as 21
prestigious members of civil society picked by the Italian
president for one term only.
Senators would no longer require a paycheck since they
already receive salaries with their other titles.
Renzi presented the draft reform at a meeting of PD bigwigs
"It will be made up of 150 people, including the 108 mayors
of provincial capitals, 21 regional governors and 21
representatives of civil society," Renzi said before heading
into the meeting.
Renzi, the energetic 39-year-old mayor of Florence, has
been working hard to introduce much-needed institutional reforms
since winning a PD leadership primary with a landslide in
A bill for a new election law to replace the dysfunctional
system that was declared unconstitutional last year is currently
being examined by parliament after Renzi reached an agreement
with three-time premier Berlusconi on this issue too.
"This is the year in which the problems need to be solved,"
said Renzi, who is not part of the government led by his PD
colleague, Premier Enrico Letta.
"It's no longer enough to stroke the problems. Time is up".
At the PD meeting, he denied tensions with the premier,
insisting the government should go on and has the PD's "constant
Renzi claimed credit for accelerating electoral reform,
saying his deal with Berlusconi was not a problem for the
government and should not spur a reshuffle.
"The PD is giving the country a hand," the Florence mayor
told party brass.
Issues including a possible remix to bring Renzi loyalists
into government should be discussed "with our cards on the
table," he said.
There has been talk of naming new cabinet members since
Berlusconi lost his Senate seat on a tax-fraud conviction after
failing to bring Letta down and sparking a split that led to the
creation of the small New Centre Right.
The talk intensified after Renzi won a landslide victory in
PD primaries and started to up pressure on the government to
deliver on reform pledges.
Renzi said the electoral reform plan, which includes
turning the Senate into a regional body so an election winner
only needs the confidence of the House, "has the support of the
main parties" and would go forward in parliament from February