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Govt says lawmakers mustn't drag feet on reforms

Renzi bill would cut number of Senators, reduce their powers

03 April, 17:19
Govt says lawmakers mustn't drag feet on reforms (ANSA) - Rome, April 3 - Italy's government on Thursday urged lawmakers to stop dragging their feet on Senate reform after 22 MPs from the ruling Democratic Party (PD) of Premier Matteo Renzi introduced an alternative version of the reform bill. "We are open to debate and no one is issuing any ultimatums, but we do need to speed things up," Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi told the Senate.

The Renzi cabinet on Monday unanimously approved a bill that will largely strip the Upper House of its lawmaking powers, transforming it into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives.

It will also reduce the number of Senators, scrap Italy's provincial governments, and take back some powers from overspending regional governments in an effort meant to streamline governance and save money.

The bill could still take a year to work its way through parliament.

It could also save government as much as one billion euros, Renzi said last week.

The alternative bill sponsored by dissenting PD members and some center-right MPs from Berlusconi's Forza Italia party would make the Senate into a 106-member body elected by citizens. "Mayors and council members are legitimately elected by the people. Comparative law suggests this is not some weird system invented by this government alone, but one that exists in other countries of proven democracy such as France or Germany," Boschi argued. "We are open to reviewing the numbers criteria in proportion to the population, but we must avoid having an excessive number of Senators.

"We are not considering a directly elected Senate at the moment".