Italy’s electoral law is unconstitutional, its top court ruled on Wednesday, piling pressure on political parties to reform a system blamed for creating parliamentary deadlock. Most politicians agree, at least in public, that the electoral rules which helped produce a hung parliament after February’s national vote must change to give Italy a chance of forming a stable government. But despite repeated exhortations from business leaders, union chiefs and President Giorgio Napolitano, progress on voting reform has long been blocked by parties worried that a new system could damage their electoral chances. “Now there is no more room for excuses from anyone, we have to move, quickly, to change the law,” said Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, whose breakaway group from Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right is a key part of the fragile ruling coalition. The ruling is not retro-active and therefore does not affect the status or validity of the current parliament, a source close to the constitutional court told Reuters.
It may actually reduce the danger of an imminent collapse of Prime Minister’s Enrico Letta’s coalition because it would be difficult to contemplate dissolving parliament before the voting law has been overhauled.
The constitutional court picked out the “winner’s bonus” system where the coalition with the biggest number of votes automatically gets 55 per cent of the seats in the lower house, irrespective of its actual share of the vote.
That can give a political grouping without an overall majority total control of the lower house, but none at all of the upper house, the Senate, which is voted in through a different system.