Renzi Wins Italy Senate Vote, Stakes Future on Referendum

  • Premier calls overhaul of Senate ``mother of all reforms''
  • Changes aim to end Italy's revolving-door governments

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi persuaded the Roman Senate to give up many of its powers on Wednesday as he seeks to ensure more stable governments in Italy.

The Senate voted on Wednesday by 180 to 112 to curtail its own powers in what Renzi called “the mother of all reforms” of his mandate as prime minister, aimed at ending revolving-door governments.

Addressing the upper house ahead of the vote, Renzi said he would consult Italian voters in a referendum expected to be held in October. “If I lose the referendum, I would consider my political experience ended,” Renzi said. This is a question “of dignity, of political commitment.”

The legislation must now go back to the lower chamber for a new vote likely in mid-April. The bill would reduce the number of senators to 100 from 315 and limit the possibility of bringing down governments.

Quagmire

“Italian political history will study this day and it will be kind with you, because you have chosen to write history, and not only to live it,” Renzi told senators. “In a very short time, Italy has done things which for years had been blocked in the quagmire of deadlock.”

Under the proposal, most bills will no longer have to be approved by both the Senate and the lower chamber to become law, and the Senate will lose the power to bring down governments with a vote of no confidence. Senators will no longer be directly elected, and they will be replaced by regional councilors and mayors who won’t be paid.

Italy has seen 63 governments since the end of World War II.

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