Letta vows to reform election law by summer

Premier holds crunch meeting with ministers, majority whips

Letta vows to reform election law by summer

Rome, May 22 - Premier Enrico Letta on Wednesday said the life of the government and the parliamentary term depended on reforming the current election law and the structure of the Senate, according to sources in his office. Meeting with cabinet members and majority whips, Letta said it was crucial to change both systems, especially the election law as early as this summer in case a new vote is held soon. "Otherwise we'll be going to the polls with a law that does not give citizens the right to choose and that will create a gridlocked parliament that is ungovernable," Guglielmo Epifani, the leader of the center-left Democratic Party, told the House. Italy's current election law - passed under a previous government of Silvio Berlusconi and often referred to as Porcellum, or 'pigsty' - has been widely blamed for leading to inconclusive February election results, two months of political deadlock, and now the unprecedented left-right government which is seen as highly volatile. Last week the supreme Cassation Court called on the Constitutional Court to review the electoral systems by which bonus seats are granted in both the House and Senate. Critics say the election law also distances politicians from voters, who effectively cannot pick their representatives, as party leaders have the power to name candidates on so-called 'blocked lists', which are then voted on. Letta also wants to strip the Senate of law-making powers, turning it into a regional assembly, which would also help avoid post-election logjams in parliament.

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