Italy's new electoral bill moves to lower house amid tensions over confidence votes

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-11 03:08:27|Editor: yan
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ROME, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- A new electoral law moved to the Italian parliament on Tuesday, amid rising tensions over the cabinet's decision to call confidence votes on it.

The bill is supported by center-left Democratic Party (PD), the major force in the government, and two opposition parties, namely center-right Forza Italia (FI) and anti-immigration Northern League.

The legal act would favor broad coalitions and allow them before elections. As such, it was seen as possibly penalize anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), which sticks to refusing any electoral alliance.

Under the new law, two-thirds of the parliamentary seats would be distributed according to a proportional system, number of seats allocated to each party in proportion to the votes received, and a third with a first-past-the-post system.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni's center-left cabinet called for three confidence votes on the provision to have it swiftly approved by the lower house, bypassing some 200 amendments already submitted.

"After a meeting of the (government's) coalition parties, I told PM Gentiloni the majority considered appropriate to hold a confidence vote," Ansa news agency quoted Ettore Rosato, PD whip and proposer of the law, as saying.

Members of the M5S called it a violation of democratic rules. "This is an imperious step, which will prevent us to discuss any part of the bill," Luigi Di Maio, the M5S candidate for prime minister, said in a video message on Twitter.

Di Maio called the bill "an electoral fraud," urging supporters to hold street protests before the parliament. Recent opinion polls showed M5S neck-to-neck with ruling PD.

The approval of a new electoral law was considered a political priority before holding the next general elections, which are due in spring 2018.

In fact, different rules now preside over the election of deputies and senators, and Italian President Sergio Mattarella has repeatedly asked for a "harmonization" of the two systems before the current legislature comes to end in February 2018.

A previous deal on a new electoral law between PD and opposition Forza Italia, Northern League, as well as M5S failed before reaching the house floor in early June, due to opposing political interests.

According to the Italian law, the cabinet will be forced to resign in the case of a negative result in a confidence vote.