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Lower House vote on election reform postponed to next week

Renzi's reputation staked to landmark bill

06 March, 15:58
Lower House vote on election reform postponed to next week (ANSA) - Rome, March 6 - A Lower House vote on Premier Matteo Renzi's landmark election reform will not take place by the end of the week as hoped.

MPs were set to debate the bill until midnight Wednesday, with sessions scheduled to resume Monday. The decision was made by a majority vote among party whips with Renzi's center-left Democratic Party (PD) voting against.

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

In less than a month with Renzi in office, passing the reform would solidify the young premier's reputation as an effective reformer, as wall as signal his seriousness in attempting to avoid the type of political deadlock seen this time one year ago.

If it passes the House, it then goes 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. The election reform 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.

It ultimately collapsed after 10 months.