What Makes Italy An Ungovernable Country?

in politics •  8 months ago

Almost 51 million of Italians were called to the polls to elect the members of the next parliament, a vote held between uncertainty and apathy. In the absence of knowing the definitive fact of participation, abstentions are close to 27%, a rising figure since the 1980's in a country where the vote was compulsory until 1995.

An uncertain result, without clear majorities, raises again the fear of institutional blockade in a society that has lived 66 governments since the proclamation of the Republic, in 1946, of which only six have exceeded two years of duration.

In the absence of knowing the definitive allocation of seats, the 5 Star Movement (M5S) has been the first force thanks to the vote of discontent and its populist discourse against the system, a strategy that has already successfully developed former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi When he broke into the Italian scene in the mid-1990s. Berlusconi, the last survivor of an Italy turned into a crusher of leadership, has seen as its main partner, the xenophobic party and Eurosceptic league North, stands as the main option within the center right coalition, with more than four points Difference on Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI). The Democratic Party (PD), which spearheaded the center-left coalition, has seen its options for redirecting government after sinking below 19% faded.

The other actors are small formations or divisions that were released at the polls, as free and equal, formed from parliamentarians who left other parties during the last legislature, in which up to 208 deputies and 140 senators have changed Bench at least once, with extreme cases such as that of Senator Luigi Compagna, who has come to star 9 modifications of parliamentary group. Thus, Forza Italia has been left with only 56 of the 98 deputies obtained in 2013; The M5S, with 21 deputies less, and the mixed group has completed 61 members.

The new electoral law

However, it will be of little use to the M5S to overflow the most optimistic forecasts after exceeding 30% of votes. Its refusal to be part of coalitions detracts competitiveness in a model of distribution of chairs is governed by the new electoral law passed the PASDO autumn, the fourth in the last 25 years, agreed between the PD and Forza Italia to the good expectations of the M5S , and which penalizes those who have attended alone.

The current system gives out 232 seats (36%) in single-member constituencies (one MP), in which the Minutes are allocated to the party or coalition whose parties add more votes. The other 386 deputies (64%) are divided into constituencies in which several seats are allocated proportionately according to the votes made by each coalition or party. A similar system governs the Senate.

The Perfect bicameralism

What has so far made the country's governability so complicated? The parliamentary fragmentation, the transfugueism, the implosion of the old party system or the system of competition by electoral coalitions, most of them consequences of the different electoral laws and the bicameral system of the legislative power.

The Italian constitution of 1948 put the first major obstacle on the road to stability, with a Parliament divided into two bodies: the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (elected by electors of equal or more than 25 years). Unlike the Spanish case, the Senate has effective veto power over the laws passed in the House and participates in the government's investiture process, so the candidates for the post of Prime Minister (chief executive) need the confidence of the two Institutions. Matteo Renzi tried to lower the influence of the Senate within the constitutional reform rejected in referendum at the end of 2016 and which was the end of his government.

Berlusconi's Law

Another major problem is the effects of successive seat-sharing models, different for the house and the Senate.

Initiated after the 2013 elections, the recently completed legislature was the last elected under the electoral law approved by the Government of Silvio Berlusconi and its partners, who in 2005, with an absolute majority, modified the electoral system to Few months after the next election, when they knew they could not repeat mandates. Il Cavaliere's maneuver succeeded in mitigating the triumph of the center-left coalition, the Olive Tree, led by the former President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, who barely endured two years in power by the Exigua majority he harvested in the Senate.

The seat allocation mechanism guaranteed 340 parliamentarians (the absolute majority is 316) in the Chamber of Deputies to the training which obtained more votes, regardless of the percentage reached. Prodi, who grazed 50% of votes but only exceeded in 7 hundredths to the Berlusconi block, obtained 67 deputies more than his rival. In the Senate, the difference was only two seats.

The imbalance was higher in 2013, when the center-left lists achieved the 340 deputies without reaching 30% of the votes. As had happened to Prodi in 2006, the distribution of senators did not accompany the majority in the House of Deputies.

"The lack of reform of the 2005 electoral law remains unforgivable (...) It is a fact, nothing unpredictable, that this law has provoked an electoral result of difficult governability. ' The then President of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, rebuked deputies and senators during the speech after his re-election to a second term in April 2013, an unprecedented event since the Democratic restoration.

Napolitano lent a final service to the country's institutions, paralyzed by the lack of consensus candidates to replace him in the head of state and a government in office, and without aspirants able to add sufficient support to form government Two months after the election. Then, the aspirant of the center-left coalition and secretary of the Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani, was unable to add the 5-Star Movement to achieve a stable majority in the Senate. Bersani was succeeded by Enrico Letta, Mateo Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni, all of them from the Democratic Party, who did achieve Parliament's confidence to lead successive executives.

Proportionality, better than governability

Since its inception, Italy's electoral legislation has opted for favouring proportionality between votes and seats to the detriment of governance. The result was a very divided parliament, with the presence of up to 16 different formations in some legislatures, and in which there was only one absolute majority alone, that of Christian Democracy (DC), in 1948.

The DC, located in the center of the ideological board, was first force and led the majority of cabinets until its disappearance, in the early 90 's. The Communist Party, with support ranging from 25 to 35% of the vote, was almost always discarded as a partner, which limited the options to form different majorities.

The 1993 law produced adverse effects. While the average duration of governments increased, encouraged at the same time a polarized competition of two coalitions in which the big parties accept almost any list that can provide votes for the allocation of seats. In the end, a system has been forged that elects a choice of acronyms that do not share leadership or program. Once the electoral loot is obtained there is no incentive to maintain the fidelity within the blocks, so it is not difficult to see leaks and divisions as soon as there are discrepancies or tensions, or find deputies and senators who put their interests or those of the party The coalition.

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