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Constitutional framework

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History of the Italian Republic

Please enter a number less than or equal to 0. Select a valid country. Please enter up to 7 characters for the postcode. The prospect of legislative deadlock is enhanced by the fact that members of the two chambers are currently chosen by different sets of voters under different rules.

This carries the perpetual risk of different majorities in the Chamber and Senate brought about by those rules rather than the choice of voters. Italians over the age of 18 can vote for the Chamber, but only those aged 25 or more can vote for the Senate.


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Ex-presidents would also sit in the upper house. The remodelled chamber could suggest changes to legislation approved in the lower house, but only block a small number of mostly constitutional bills. The electoral system has been altered three times since Proportional-representation, though leading to endless changes of government, produced an underlying stability during the cold war, as successive administrations led by the Christian Democrats held the line against a powerful Communist Party.

This was changed in when Italy reverted to a system of proportional representation. The winning coalition was granted additional seats to ensure that it enjoyed a majority. A new law is now in place. Mr Renzi changed it last year to one known as the Italicum, but kept many of its flaws. Voters for the lower house will have to choose, as they do now, between lists drawn up by party leaders in each multi-seat constituency.

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This means that deputies will still be largely beholden to their party leaders. Under the Italicum, as under the Porcellum, one of the lists will be guaranteed the right to govern. The Italicum engineers an assured majority by instituting a two-round ballot, in which the winner is then guaranteed of the seats in the lower house. And in practice, it will have more, because the share-out applies only to of the deputies.

It would be unusual if none went to the winning list. The Italicum does not apply to the Senate.


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They supply what Italian politicians, and especially those in small parties, crave even more than sources of patronage: opportunities for ricatto leverage or, less politely, extortion. Parties with just a tiny fraction of the national vote, or even individual lawmakers, can extract succulent favours from the government of the day. That senators will be mostly part-timers, drawn from corruption-prone local and regional governments and that they will enjoy parliamentary immunity offers little reassurance of good government.

Add to that list of worries the fact that the choice of president of the republic, a key figure at times of crisis, will be more easily determined by the prime minister of the day. The reforms might struggle for acceptance on their merits.

Modern Italy Representation and Reform

But the vote has also become a referendum on Mr Renzi, which makes it harder for the Yes campaign to win. Though he can be disarmingly self-deprecating, Mr Renzi is also a bruiser. His rough-house style was at first the key to his popularity. The prime minister came into office claiming he would initiate constitutional reform by the end of his first month; bring in a new employment law the next; streamline the bureaucracy in the one after that; and then overhaul taxation.

Mr Renzi has fallen well short of such improbable ambitions, although he has shown greater reformist zeal than most of his predecessors.

Italy's reform rumble: The referendum that's worrying the markets

A shake-up of the public administration has only just begun. An overhaul of the judicial system is stuck in parliament.

Modern Italy: Representation and Reform by Paul Furlong

Too many of his other reforms have yet to take effect, although in some cases that is because of the inertia Mr Renzi is trying to overcome. Nor can Mr Renzi claim to have been hamstrung by factors beyond his control. Since early , oil prices have been low, the euro-dollar exchange rate has been beneficial for exports, the European Central Bank has been pumping liquidity into the euro zone and the EU has been gradually abandoning fiscal austerity. Paul Furlong presents an introduction to Italian politics and policy-making, considering in detail the way in which Italy's recent history has affected its course of political and economic development.

He looks at the policy process through the s, analysing the practical results of the policy-making process in key areas, such as industry and the economy. He goes on to discuss the party-political and governmental developments of the s. The book is designed throughout to illuminate the Italian case by applying a comparative framework. Italy has often been treated as an exception to any rule of Western European politics; there are, however, many features that the country holds in common with its EC neighbours.

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