Rome

Drive to change Italy's pigsty election law fast-tracked

Bill to be voted on in October

Drive to change Italy's pigsty election law fast-tracked

Rome, August 1 - The drive to change Italy's much criticised 'pigsty' election law has been fast-tracked and a new one should be voted on in the Lower House in October. On Wednesday a proposal for the reform to be declare urgent was approved in the House. Some have interpreted the move as a sign the parties want to rush through a new system as they see early elections a possibility given the weakness of Premier Enrico Letta's left-right government. The executive, which was sworn in in April to end two months of deadlock after February's inconclusive general election, is strained by differences between Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party. The government may collapse if Italy's supreme court on Thursday upholds a tax-fraud conviction against Berlusconi. The current election law has been widely derided since it was framed by the centre right ahead of the 2006 elections and not just because it failed to produce a clear winner in February. It has also been blasted because it awards an unfairly large bonus to the top party in the House and does not allow voters to pick their MPs. The fact voters cannot express preferences about which of the candidates on any given party list they want to go to parliament means party bosses effectively decide who becomes a lawmaker by setting the order in which candidates feature on the lists. Some commentators have said this means politicians are more interested in pleasing their party superiors than they are in helping their constituents. The party whips have said a bill for a new election law will spend no longer than a month in parliamentary commissions after it is presented. This should make it possible for it to be debated on the floor of the House in September and go to a vote in October, although the parties still have to overcome differences over what the new system should be like. "The urgent-procedure decision taken in the House for the election law is excellent," Letta said via his Twitter account, @EnricoLetta. "Now everyone must assume their responsibilities. I am 'NoPigsty'".

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