A much-awaited ruling of Italy’s constitutional court on Wednesday revised parts of the electoral law, prompting fresh calls for holding general elections sooner than scheduled.

The so-called “Italicum” law under review of the constitutional judges only applies to the chamber of deputies, or lower house.

In a written ruling, the panel said the runoff in national elections provided by such law is unlawful with respect to the country’s constitution. They also declared invalid a provision allowing top candidates to pick up a constituency to represent at their own choice, in case they have run in more electoral colleges.

However, the highest court agreed with a key section of the law providing a 54 percent majority of seats in the lower house to the party winning at least 40 percent of votes in the first round.

If no one reaches that threshold, the electoral mechanism would remain mainly proportional.

The law had been challenged under other points of views before tribunals across the country, which then referred to the constitutional court. Yet, all other objections were rejected.

The court was expected to issue a report with the motivation of the ruling within 30 days. Yet, it already stated on Wednesday that the law so amended would be “susceptible of immediate application.”

These words gave new strength to those political forces calling for early elections, including center-left Democratic Party (PD) of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, which is the largest force in parliament.

The former prime minister was “highly satisfied” by the ruling, and would be ready to go to polls with the amended law, without any further passage in parliament, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Major opposition forces — anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), and anti-immigration Northern League — also renewed their pressure for an early vote.

The country’s second largest party, the M5S, would now aim at reaching the 40 percent threshold, and win the majority of seats without making any coalition, founder and leader Beppe Grillo wrote on its Facebook account.

The current legislature ends in February 2018, but early elections might be held as soon as in spring or early summer 2017.

Center-right Forza Italia (FI) party of former premier Silvio Berlusconi was the only party openly asking on Wednesday for the law to be further discussed and amended.

Indeed, Italian President Sergio Mattarella has repeatedly appealed for the country’s current electoral systems to be “harmonized” before any new election.

The “Italicum” law refers to the lower house only, because it was adopted in 2015 on the premise that the senate would be downsized in a separate constitutional reform under discussion at the time.

The constitutional reform advocated by the former Renzi government was indeed approved in 2016, foreseeing the demotion of the senate into a non-elected assembly in charge of regional affairs.

However, voters rejected the constitutional reform in a referendum held on Dec. 4, 2016, and the senate remained untouched. A prior (to the reform) proportional law would now govern its election.

The rejection of the cabinet-backed constitutional reform in Dec. 4 marked a harsh defeat for Matteo Renzi, who resigned few days after the referendum. Paolo Gentiloni, a Renzi’s close ally in the PD, took the post of prime minister with more or less the same center-left majority.

Wednesday’s ruling might now have a crucial impact on Gentiloni cabinet’s life if the early election will be held in spring this year. Enditem

Source: Alessandra Cardone, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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