Rome

Reform-procedures bill to complete first reading by July

Italian parliament preparing to take on streamlining government

Reform-procedures bill to complete first reading by July

Rome, June 11 - The bill to set out the procedures for reforming the Italian Constitution to streamline government will be complete for its first reading in parliament by the end of July, Relations with Parliament Minister Dario Franceschini, said on Tuesday. "There is a commitment to take on the bill and draw up the process for reform," Franceschini said following a government summit. The unprecedented left-right government of Premier Enrico Letta has set an 18-month deadline for the reforms, which will be framed by a panel of 40 parliamentarians helped by 35 Constitutional experts. Reforms will include a new electoral law, cutting the number of MPs and stripping the Senate of its equal status to the Lower House. Law-making is slower in Italy than other countries because the Senate has the same powers as the House. Another mooted reform is to change the way the Italian president is elected. Currently he is voted in by parliament. There is a groundswell on the right for changing this to let the Italian people choose him, as in France and the United States, but this is opposed by many on the left. Any changes to the Constitution require a two-thirds majority in both chambers. If they do not get this, they are subject to a popular referendum, which can abrogates the reform.

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