Italian centre-left leader Matteo Renzi promised on Monday to reform an electoral system blamed for creating chronic political deadlock, defying party critics who had attacked him for sealing a deal on the proposals with arch-enemy Silvio Berlusconi. The 39-year-old mayor of Florence, who won the leadership of the Democratic Party (PD) in December, said he would eliminate the fragmentation that has made it impossible for successive Italian governments to survive a full term in office. “We are saying no to giving small parties the power of holding us hostage,” he told a meeting of the PD party leadership, which approved the proposals by 111 votes in favour with 34 abstentions but no votes against, despite criticism from some on the left of the PD. “I don’t rule out alliances but only if they’re made for governing, not just winning an election,” he said, adding that settling the thorny issue of voting rules would clear the way for vital economic reforms.
Analysts say electoral reform is vital for Italy to achieve the stable government needed to reform a chronically sluggish economy that has not grown for over two years and tackle the euro zone’s second highest debt burden after Greece.
In last year’s election, no party gained enough votes to govern alone, plunging the country into stalemate before the creation of a broad-based coalition government which has constantly bickered and struggled to produce reforms.
The proposals would see a party or coalition that won an election with at least 35 percent of the vote boosted by a winner’s bonus of up to 18 percent that would give it a majority in parliament of between 53-55 percent.