Italy’s parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved slashing the number of lawmakers, a move the left-leaning government hopes will help keep the far-right from power.
Reducing the number of MPs and senators in Italy by 345 was a flagship manifesto promise of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which rules in coalition with the country’s centre-left, and promised voters it would tackle political elitism and wasteful spending.
The move, linked to broader electoral law reforms, was passed by 553 MPs, with just 14 voting against and two abstentions.
“It’s done!” the M5S said on its blog. “Promise kept.”
Italy currently has the second-highest number of lawmakers in the EU after Britain — some 630 elected representatives in the lower house and 315 in the Senate.
The constitutional reform, which could be subjected to a popular referendum in the coming months, cuts the number of MPs to 400 and senators to 200 from the next legislature, with an expected saving of some 100 million euros ($110 million) a year.
“It’s a well-balanced reform with an excellent profile,” legal expert Guido Neppi Modona told Il Fatto Quotidiano on Monday.
A reduced number of lawmakers will “lead parties to take particular care in choosing candidates,” he said.
Critics have warned such a cut could affect popular representation, and increase the influence of lobbyists over governing institutions — all for a minimal saving that will have little effect on debt-laden Italy’s budget balance.
– Mere horse trading? –
This is the country’s eighth attempt to cut its number of lawmakers since 1983, according to the Open news website.
Five Star (M5S) made the cut a condition of its alliance with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), following the collapse of the previous, far-right coalition in August.
The PD had previously voted against the reductions but agreed to support them if it meant clinching a deal with the M5S which would prevent a return to the polls and keep far-right leader Matteo Salvini out of power.
The party has insisted the cut be followed by a new electoral law and is pushing for the reintroduction of a proportional representation system.
Under the current mix of proportional representation and first-past-the-post systems, a winning coalition needs more than 40 per cent of the vote to have the necessary parliamentary majority.
With full proportional representation, parties or coalitions would need a much bigger majority to form a government.
– ‘Why the haste?’ –
That would force League leader Salvini to ditch any plans to run alone or with a small fellow far-right party at the next election, and force him instead to turn to former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italy party for help, the weekly L’Espresso said.
“Why the haste to cut the seats?” constitutional expert Massimo Luciani said in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, pointing out that the coalition government — an unlikely alliance of former foes — could fall before changes to the electoral law can be made.
“To avoid ‘surprises’, the package of reforms should be launched at the same time,” he said.
Lorenzo Codogno, former chief economist at the Italian Treasury Department, told AFP the pressing need to change the electoral law could serve as glue to hold the coalition together.
He warned however that “I have a feeling that (the electoral law) won’t happen very soon”.
International markets and European investors watching the stability of the new coalition were right “to worry about everything,” he said.
Amosun, 3000 others defect to PDP in Ogun state.
As the 2020 chairmanship election date in Ogun state draws closer, Akeem Amosun, Allied for New Nigeria(ANN) House of Representative candidate for Abeokuta South in the last poll has led over 3000 supporters to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
Speaking while making the formal declaration where he was received by the former House of Representatives member; Hon. Ladi Adebutu and PDP chieftain, Sikurullai Ogundele on Thursday, he said there is the need for unity in order to defeat the APC.
He said: “Our opponents are wicked, therefore, we need to be united. The nature of elections as seen throughout the federation are now being militarized brazenly.
“The forthcoming elections can only be won by landslide, therefore, I urge all parties to stand united and coalesce as one body so that when they come with their thugs from Lagos we shall resist them.
“The APC government in the state lack competence and compassion. They can’t do anything without getting approval from Lagos. Ogun State is not Lagos subsidiary.“We are on a mission to rescue our state from incompetence, lack of compassion of APC government.”
Sowore Finally Released from DSS Custody
Sowore was released hours after the Federal High Court in Abuja had a 24 hour ultimatum to DSS to release both of them who had been in their custody despite their release on bail.
He is, however, expected to appear in court tomorrow for the commencement of trial.
Sowore was received by his lawyer Femi Falana and several of his supporters.
APC primaries annulled and INEC restrained by court.
A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, on Thursday nullified the governorship primaries that produced Chief David Lyon as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the Nov. 16 poll in the state.
Delivering judgment, Justice Jane Inyang, held that the primaries were conducted arbitrarily outside the rules of the party.
The suit filed by Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, challenged conduct of the governorship primaries of APC which held on Sept.4.
She held that since the process was conducted in violation of the party’s constitution and guidelines as clearly spelt out for the conduct of governorship primaries, none of the aspirants should be fielded as the party’s candidate.
She therefore restrained the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), from including Lyon as the APC candidate in the governorship election slated for Saturday.
Inyang noted that according to the APC guidelines for the conduct of the 2019 governorship primaries, the results were expected to be declared by the returning officer for the pre-election, Gov. Mai Kala Buni of Yobe and not Sen. Emmanuel Ochega, Secretary of the election Committee.
Inyang also held that the APC violated its own rules in the composition of the election panel when it constituted a one-member committee and not seven members as stipulated in the party rules.
“It has been established by judicial authorities and several judgments that political parties are bound by their own rules, the committee that conducted the primary threw caution to the winds and it is my ruling that the primaries stand nullified.
“The results announced by Sen Emmanuel Ochega is not valid as he is not the returning officer for the election.
“And I make an order restraining INEC from recognising any of the aspirants that participated in the said primaries”,Inyang said.
Lokpobiri had approached the court, to challenge the emergence of Mr David Lyon as the APC governorship candidate in the state.
Listed as respondents in the case are the APC, Lyon and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Lokpobiri had claimed that he won the Sept. 4 governorship primaries conducted by the APC, using the direct primary mode.
The aspirants, who participated in the Sept. 4, APC governorship primaries in the state, included Lokpobiri, Aganaba Steven, Ebitimi Amgbare, Diseye Poweigha, David Lyon and Ongoebi Etebu.
A former Cross River Resident Electoral Commissioner, Briyai Frankland, was disqualified.