Italy – the day after
Italy spent the day yesterday digesting the important ruling by its constitutional court to strike down two central aspects of its current electoral system – the rule to give the largest party a majority in the parliament, and the rule that allows parties to nominate blocked lists, which does not allow voters to pick and choose between candidates. What became already apparent on day one after the verdict is that the political process has immediately shifted towards proportional representation – simply because this is the system that protects all the small parties, especially those that form part of the Letta government, like Angelino Alfano’s New Centre Right, or Mario Monti’s Civic Choice party. Corriere della Sera reports that the system now favoured was a German voting system, but one that rewards the largest party with an extra 15% of the seats. Enrico Letta said he will not take up the discussion until the court publishes its official verdict, which it has not done so, and which will give much more necessary detail. The best guess is that it will take a rather longer time to get a new voting system passed in legislation, possibly up to two years, during which the current gridlock will persist.
What also became apparent yesterday is that this verdict has made the political confrontation even more acidic. Renato Brunetta, a former minister under Silvio Berlusconi, said the entire Italian political systems lacked democratic legitimacy because everybody, including the president, has been elected on the basis of an unconstitutional system. Forza Italia and Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement agree on this point. They will oppose the system in the Senate, whose approval will be necessary to enact electoral reform – including its own abolition.
Matteo Renzi, who is likely to become the next leader of the Partito Democratico, is said to be furious about the ruling, which he against a personal blow against him – as it reduces his ability to force new elections.