Rome

Opposition groups protest election law confidence

M5S, MDP take to streets, Napolitano critical

Opposition groups protest election law confidence

Rome, October 11 - The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and several leftwing parties continued staunch protests on Wednesday against the government's decision to put a bill for a new election law to confidence votes in a bid to push it through. The M5S say the bill is designed to scupper their chances of winning the next election, set to take place early in 2018, and other groups have also described it as an affront to democracy. Two of the three planned confidence votes on the so-called Rosatellum election bill were scheduled to take place on Wednesday. The first, on the first article of the bill, passed by 309 votes to 90 with nine abstentions. The second was also expected to pass with flying colours. But a final, secret vote on the whole bill after Thursday's third and final confidence vote was expected to pose more uncertainty. Protests took place outside the Lower House and the Pantheon during the day. M5S founder Beppe Grillo on Wednesday called on the public to rise up against the bill. "If you let the election rules be changed again so that the slime of the country get back to the top, once again your children will pay the price," comedian-turned-politician Grillo said on his blog. "The citizens will have their share of the responsibility if the umpteenth dirty-trick law comes to life". The Rosatellum 2, nicknamed after Democratic Party (PD) Lower House whip Ettore Rosato, would harmonise the present differing laws for the House and the Senate. It would introduce a system that is two-thirds proportional representation and one-third first-past-the-post system aimed at favouring the emergence of a winner. There are fears the next general election, expected early in 2018, could be inconclusive with the current laws. The bill has the backing of the ruling PD, Silvio Berlusconi's opposition centre-right Forza Italia, the Northern League and the small centrist Popular Alternative (AP) group. "Today democracy is in danger, it is at risk," Alessandro Di Battista, a senior M5S lawmaker, told Radio Capital. "Parliament is made up of representatives of the people. With this law it will be made up of representatives of the parties". M5S leader Luigi Di Maio said "tomorrow there will be a vigil for democracy outside parliament". Former premier Massimo D'Alema told a sit-in by the leftwing MDP party outside the Pantheon that "the PD is wearing down democracy" with an "unacceptable bill". Former president and Life Senator Giorgio Napolitano said in a statement on Wednesday that the government's decision to put a bill to a confidence vote was a big limitation for lawmakers. "With the confidence vote imposed by the government on the substantial parts of the bill before debate on the amendments to article 1, the only option I have is to intervene in the Senate during the debate on the confidence vote," he said. "And that is what I intend to do, highlighting the extremely limited area in which an MP today, or a Senator tomorrow, can express their point of view and their proposals and contribute to the definition of one of the most significant and delicate measures."

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