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Italy Prepares for Referendum to Reduce Third of Deputies, Senators

Mon 07 Sep 2020 | 06:40 PM
Ahmed Moamar


The Italian voters will participate in a referendum to reduce a third of their deputies and senators on September 20, 21. The referendum is one of the Five-Star Movement's promises in the last elections.

The House of Representatives in Italy approved theses promises in October last year, but the Senate demanded that the amendments should be referred to the opinion of the citizens.

If the Italians agree to these amendments, the number of members in the House of Representatives will be reduced from 630 seats to 400 ones, and in the Senate, the number of seats will be reduced from 315 to 200.

This means amending Articles 56, 57 and 59 of the 1947 Charter.

The Italian government will save one hundred million euros roughly according to the Italian newspaper, La Corriere della Sera, a wide- circulated daily newspaper.

Amending the formation of Parliament and the Senate will also affect the election of the President of the Republic, who is elected every seven years in a joint session of both houses.

The eligible majority required for his election in the first three ballots will move from 674 to 439, and the absolute majority for the fourth ballot after that will move from 505 to 330.

In contrast to the fiasco referendum that former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called in December 2016 to end the ideal Italian parliamentary formula, these consultations do not seem to have led to the polarization of Italy.

According to a poll conducted by the Ipsos Institute, 46% of voters support reducing the number of MPs, compared to 10% who oppose, 26% have not decided yet, and 20% will abstain.

In an effort to encourage participation amid the state of health emergency and fear of infection, the referendum coincides with the holding of important elections in seven Italian regions (Veneto, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Puglia, Marche and Valle di Aosta ".

Also the election of mayors of the main cities across Italy will be conducted at the same time

although it will not be necessary to reach 50% of participation in constitutional counsel to be considered valid.

The electoral marathon on September 20 and 21 will be a thermometer of the health of the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose popularity has grown thanks to the management of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Economists expected a drop of 14% in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year, that will put an end to Italians' honeymoon with their government.

Recent opinion polls also reduce the distance between Matteo Salvini's party and the Social Democrats to five points, while the Italian Brothers and "Grillinus" are competing for third place with 15% of the vote each.

On the other hand, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio said, commenting on the scheduled referendum on reducing the number of parliamentarians, that it is modernizing the country and not a matter of parliamentary representation.

He added in remarks today, Monday, that "the matter is important because it involves a process of modernization of the country, not a representative process.

"The time has come to reduce, and I am sure that many citizens will vote yes." stressing that it is not a referendum for the Five-Star Movement.

He pointed out that it is not just a question of costs but we must not think that there is a problem with representation.

The head of the Italian diplomacy concluded by saying that everything is available to represent the citizens, and the reduction of 345 parliamentarians will not make any difference in matters," according to the Italian agency "ACE.