Italian Senate to vote on own demise

  • 13/10/2015
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (Reuters)
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (Reuters)

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is poised for a historic victory as the Senate votes to relinquish most of its power in a revolutionary move to end decades of political instability.

Senators are expected to vote on Tuesday (local time) to cut their own number from 315 to 100 and effectively end their ability to bring down the government – a safeguard put in place after World War II to prevent the return of Fascism.

"It's a great victory for Matteo Renzi ... it will show Italy and Europe that he is able to reform an irreformable country," Roberto D'Alimonte, political science professor at Rome's Luiss University, told AFP.

"The reform will simplify the formation of governments, the passing of laws, reduce the power of lobbies and make parliament more accountable," he said.

The youthful Renzi has made streamlining the country's governance by taming parliament's second chamber – which currently has the powers to delay and block legislation – one of the keystones of his mandate.

Under the current system, the two branches of government have equal weight. Transforming the Senate into a small chamber of regional lawmakers would stop bills getting bogged down in a back-and-forth between the chambers.

It would also bring an end to the political musical chairs that has produced 63 different administrations since 1946.