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Grasso says he reserves right to express opposition

Senate Speaker opposed to Renzi's reform of Upper House

31 March, 19:12
Grasso says he reserves right to express opposition (ANSA) - Rome, March 31 - Senate Speaker Piero Grasso said Monday that he "reserved the right" to express his opposition to major constitutional reforms approved by Premier Matteo Renzi's cabinet.

"I reserve the right to express my opinion on issues of policy without fear or partiality in the exercise of my duties as Speaker," Grasso wrote on his Facebook page immediately after Renzi announced the unanimous approval by his cabinet of his reform package.

The measures it contains are designed to transform the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives and scraps Italy's provincial governments, which Renzi said will make Italy easier and cheaper to govern.

The premier, who only took office last month, has said that he will quit if his reforms do not become law.

Grasso had previously warned of his opposition to streamline the Senate, and in his Facebook post denied accusations that he is simply acting to defend the ruling class to which he belongs. He pointed out that he has already taken a sharp pay cut and refused a government apartment, demonstrating his commitment to public life.

Grasso said that he wants to see a true debate on profound changes to the Senate. "I wanted, in such an important moment, to make a real contribution of depth to the ongoing debate," he said.

Grasso, the former head of Italy's National Anti-Mafia Directorate, has said that reforms could include eliminating Life Senators.