On February 24th and 25th Italian parliamentary elections will be held. The electoral system in place is referred to in Italy as the “Calderoli law”, approved in 2005 and already used in the 2006 and 2008. Both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are elected with a proportional system with a majority premium. The two systems however are not identical. For the Chamber of Deputies it is a majority-assuring system. The party or coalition of parties that gets a plurality of the votes at the national level is guaranteed 54% of the seats (340) regardless of its percentage of votes [JT: Unless it gets more than 54% of the vote – which won’t happen in this election – but in that case it would get the correct proportion. It is only a bonus, never a penalty.] In the case of coalitions the votes of all its parties are counted for determining who gets the majority bonus. The remaining seats are allocated proportionally among the losers which meet the conditions for gaining representation. For parties running alone the threshold for getting seats is 4%. For parties running in coalition the threshold is 2%, provided their coalition gets at least 10% of the votes. For each coalition with more than 10% the largest party below the 2% threshold is entitled to receive seats. Party lists are closed.
For the Senate the system is similar to that of the Chamber but it is not majority-assuring. The major difference is that the majority bonus is allocated at the regional level. In 17 out of 20 regions the party or coalition of parties that gets a plurality of the votes is guaranteed 55% of the seats assigned to each region regardless of its percentage of votes. In the case of coalitions the votes of all parties in the coalition are counted for determining who gets the majority bonus. The remaining seats are allocated proportionally among the losers which meet the conditions for gaining representation. For parties running alone the threshold for receiving seats is 8%. For parties running in coalition the threshold is 3%, provided their coalition gets at least 20% of the votes. Party lists are closed.
The regional allocation of the majority premiums in the Senate makes it difficult achieving an absolute majority of seats. Even a party or coalition with a 5-8 percentage point lead at the national level might not be able to get 158 out of 350 seats. This can happen if it loses in 2 of the largest regions and it is particularly true in a multipolar situation such as exists now.
An important element to consider is that in our parliamentary system the government must receive a confidence vote by both Houses. A non-confidence vote by either of the two legislative houses entails the resignation of the government.
Full Article: The Monkey Cage.