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Matteo Renzi and Silvio Berlusconi held a telephone conversation yesterday to align their mutual positions on the electoral law – possibly with the intent to bypass the official position of the Italian government;

    15.01.2014

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    A short insight into Renzi’s behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings on the electoral law

    This is one of the stories that exemplifies the snakepit nature of Italian party politics right now: How Matteo Renzi is trying to push a reluctant coalition into action on the electoral law by appearing to form coalitions with opposition parties. We are keeping a close eye on these manoeuvrings because they could – at one point – lead to the collapse of the government. Yesterday, Renzi and Silvio Berlusconi held a telephone conversation in which they tried to align their position on the change in the electoral law, according to Huffington Post Italia. The article makes it very clear that two sides harbour a natural distrust of each other, so the tone was diplomatically cautious. But aides to both Berlusconi and Renzi have been working flat out to reach a compromise, since on this issue the two are closer to each other than to Enrico Letta and Angelino Alfano, deputy PM who broke away from Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to form his own New Centre Right – a party that would be in danger of disappearing under the systems preferred by Renzi. Letta and Alfano prefer to let things slide for fear that an early reform could trigger new elections. Moreover, they can easily live with the default position imposed by the Constitutional court that would arise if no agreement was reached. That would be a return to a system of pure proportional representation – which prevailed before 1993 – a system that bring about permanent coalition governments – which would suit them just fine. A further complication is Renzi’s insistence of a package deal that includes electoral reform, the abolition of the Senate (and its replacement with a regional assembly), and a reform of section V in the Italian constitution, dealing with the autonomy of Italy’s regions, as Corriere della Sera explains.

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