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Lower House to begin voting next Tuesday on new election law

Political party leaders agree to delay decision on bill

11 February, 16:16
Lower House to begin voting next Tuesday on new election law (See Related) (ANSA) - Rome, February 11 - Political party leaders in Italy's Lower House agreed on Tuesday to postpone for one week the start of voting on a controversial electoral law designed to produce a clear winner in the next national vote.

Members are now scheduled to begin to vote on February 18 on the law devised last month between Democratic Party (PD) leader Matteo Renzi and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi.

The delay came as PD Premier Enrico Letta said that he would present a policy pact to the parties supporting his weak coalition government later on Tuesday. His left-right administration is in peril after coming under fire for lack of progress on reforms from Renzi, whose PD is the biggest group in parliament.

The election law sets bars for small parties to force them into alliances, and provides a 15% winner's bonus for a coalition that gets 37%.

It was born of frustration with last year's experience following an inconclusive decision in the February 2013 national election.

Following that, the PD teamed up in an unnatural alliance with Berlusconi to break two months of post-election stalemate last April before the shaky coalition imploded when the media magnate pulled his support after the Senate voted to expel him on a tax-fraud conviction.

The PD has since been ruling with the New Centre Right while the bulk of Berlusconi MPs have moved into opposition under the revived Forza Italia banner.