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House to approve election law next week

Voting to begin March 4, over 200 amendments

27 February, 15:13
House to approve election law next week (ANSA) - Rome, February 27 - Italy's Lower House is to start voting on March 4 on a controversial new election law designed to produce a clear winner in the next national vote, political party leaders said Thursday.

House members will be expected to vote on some 225 amendments to the so-called Italicum bill, born of an agreement between the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) chief Matteo Renzi, now premier, and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi. If all goes to plan the bill could be approved by the end of next week before passing to the Senate for scrutiny.

Under Italy's parliamentary system it must be approved by both houses in identical form before it can pass into law. Voting had been due to begin in the House earlier this month but got postponed amid the manoeuvering that led to the ouster of former Premier Enrico Letta, also of the PD, and the nomination of Renzi to take his place.

Renzi has made reform a priority for his government. 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 aims to prevent the havoc that followed an inconclusive result in the February 2013 national election under a law that was subsequently struck down by the Constitutional Court. After two months of subsequent deadlock, the PD teamed up in an unnatural alliance with Berlusconi plagued by instability.