Renzi gives Italy new bizarre electoral law

Despite the heated protests by the opposition and the defection of dozens of MPs in the Government coalition, the Parliament approved Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Electoral Bill, dubbed the Italicum. Before becoming a law, the Bill will need the sanction of President Giorgio Mattarella, who is very unlikely to deny it.

Pursuant to the new law, the party getting 40 percent of the votes will be attributed a “majority bonus” allowing it to control the Parliament. If no party reaches the 40 percent threshold, the two parties which got the most votes will face a second electoral round an the winner will obtain the bonus.

The Italicum system, which is based on the electoral law for Municipalities, is unique in the world, and Mr Renzi’s prediction that it will be exported “all over Europe” looks quite audacious.

Another oddity is that the new law will apply only to the Chamber of Deputies, since the Senate is supposed to became a chamber representing local Governments after Mr Renzi’s Constitutional Reform Bill is approved: that is why the Italicum will enter into force only in 2016.

The debate of the constitutional reform, however, could prove tricky. Mr Renzi’s refusal to modify some controversial aspects of the Electoral Bill raised much discontent in his own party and enraged the opposition. This had no consequences in the Chamber of Deputies, but the constitutional reforms needs to be debated also by the Senate, where Mr Renzi’s majority is really narrow. Moreover, the constitutional reform will probably need to be approved by a referendum.


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