The Italian parliament passed Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s flagship constitutional reform on Tuesday, opening the way for a referendum later this year on an overhaul aimed at giving Italy more stable governments. Renzi says the reform will increase political stability and end decades of revolving-door governments that have made it difficult to revive the country’s debt-ridden economy. He has promised to resign if the referendum goes against him. The reform effectively abolishes the Senate as an elected chamber and sharply restricts its ability to veto legislation. In the current system, the upper and lower houses of parliament have equal powers.
“This is a historic moment for Italy,” Renzi said from Iran, where he was drumming up business for Italian companies. “I am very happy because Italy used to be the least stable country in Europe. Today it is the most stable country in Europe.”
The bill passed by 361 to 7 in the lower house, with opposition parties abandoning the assembly before the final vote. The referendum is expected in October.
The law is inextricably tied to Renzi’s other main political reform, the introduction of a new, two-round voting system for the lower house. Together, they should give Italy governments that survive full, five-year terms – something that has never happened since World War Two.