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The pure proportional system of the so-called First Republic was trashed in the 1993 referendum by an overwhelming majority. Clean Hands was in full swing and all the parties that owed their "raison d'etre" and their inordinate power to the Cold War simply crumbled into splinter groups. Parliament could do little else but bow to popular dictate and create the present hybrid majoritarian system with a pinch of proportional.

Regardless of all its shortcomings, the electoral reform of 1994 ushered in the second republic and has since been the rule of the game.

Berlusconi's attempt to change the rules of the game at the eighty-ninth minute is beyond contempt. Disregarding the fawning blither of his peons, outrage is unanimous. Berlusconi has been decisively thrashed in every election held recently with the amusing exception of Catania. Despite his continuous losses and his coalition in shambles, he has never contemplated resigning.

Given the disastrous state of the Italian economy, Ciampi had expressed the wish to have early elections by February 2006 so that a new government with a fresh mandate could take the necessary and drastic measures that Berlusconi is anthropologically incapable of handling. Berlusconi will have none of that and intends to exploit what little time is left to shove through his destructive and self-serving reforms. Since he has a solid majority of faceless button-pushers that he keeps in line with gold rolexes, his "reforms" may actually become law.

At the same time he is personally obliged to stay in power, if nothing more for the numerous criminal trials that await him both in Italy and Spain. (Chirac is on the same sort of boat, too.)

There would be two major consequences if his electoral reform bill were to pass as is. In a poll published today by la Repubblica based on 1000 voters' preferences, the left was favoured by 55%. Under the actual law, the left would have 363 deputies to the rights' 263 deputies. Under the proposed law the winning majority would have 290 deputies to the losers' 340 deputies. I hope that makes sense.

The second consequence would be a weak government incapable of expressing a durable political agenda. A government continually held at bay by party bosses and backroom power bases, much like the first republic. The left has promised to repeal the worst of Berlusconi's laws once in power. Fat chance if this electoral law passes.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Sep 15th, 2005 at 05:49:25 PM EST

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