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Renzi stakes credibility on Senate reform

Premier says will have 'lost bet' if fails to revamp Upper House

05 March, 13:39
Renzi stakes credibility on Senate reform (ANSA) - Siracusa, March 5 - Premier Matteo Renzi said Wednesday that his government's credibility was on the line over a reform that would see the Senate transformed into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives stripped of law-making powers.

The aim of the move is to make passing legislation, and therefore governing Italy, easier and help reduce the massive cost of the country's political apparatus.

On Tuesday Renzi struck a deal with the leader of the opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, that limits another key reform, the introduction of a new election law, to the Lower House.

This effectively obliges Renzi to pass the Senate reform, otherwise Italy will find itself voting with two different election laws the next time it goes to the polls, one for the Lower House and another for the Upper House.

"The victory of my wager is at stake over the reform of the Senate," Renzi said.

"If we are not able to do it, we'll have lost, even if we get the economy going again.

"You cannot change the country if you don't start from the political arena, the civil service, and the Constitutional reform of the Senate.

"I respect the Senate, but that's precisely why I say that the current perfect two-chamber parliament system is a brake on Italy". Renzi is hopeful the new election law will be passed in the Lower House this week and quickly win definitive approval in the Senate shortly after.

Reforming the Senate, however, is expected to take over a year as it requires amending the Constitution, which is a far more lengthy and difficult process.