Italian Constitutional Court backs Renzi’s efforts for early elections

Italy keeps getting closer to a new set of elections this year after the Court arranged a new voting system that backs former Premier Matteo Renzi.
25 Jan 2017 – Bloomberg

The court had been asked to rule on Renzi’s electoral reform, which was passed in 2015, and struck down a provision for a run-off vote for the lower house, saying it should be held in just one round.

The rest of the law was left largely intact and the court ruled that it can be applied immediately.

Italian politics have been in limbo since Renzi lost a referendum on a separate constitutional reform in December, with President Sergio Mattarella saying he was reluctant to call new elections until differences between the electoral systems for the lower house and the Senate were smoothed out.

Renzi’s party swiftly insisted on early elections soon after the ruling. “We need to vote immediately,” said Ettore Rosato, chief whip for the Democratic Party, or PD, in the lower house, stressing that the new law could be used straight away.

Renzi, who remains leader of the PD, the biggest group in parliament, is pushing for elections by early June. He resigned following his referendum defeat, and backed Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni as his successor.


“The ruling is good for Renzi because it makes the electoral system for the lower house more proportional, more similar to the Senate,” Giovanni Tarli Barbieri, a professor of constitutional law at Florence University, said in a phone interview. “It’s now up to the mainstream parties to see whether they can or want to make even more changes.”

“The outcome, overall, increases the likelihood of snap polls by June,” according to Teneo Intelligence Co-President Wolfango Piccoli.

Most political parties have called for parliament to approve a new electoral law to take account of the court’s ruling, but they are divided on how to shape a new system.

The Italian establishment is concerned that the populist Five Star Movement could win the bonus for topping the election, helping them achieve their goal of a referendum on Italy’s membership of the euro area. Five Star is neck and neck with the Democratic Party in opinion polls.


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