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Meloni’s constitutional reform slammed for falling far short of EU standards

8 months ago 30

The constitutional reform proposed last Friday by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government, which includes the direct election of the prime minister, has come under heavy criticism, with some calling it sloppy and others saying it falls far short of previous proposals and EU standards.

Presented by Meloni as the “reform of reforms”, the bill has been fiercely contested by opposition parties and experts alike.

While the Secretary of the Democratic Party (PD/S&D), Elly Schlein, called the reform “dangerous” for Italy, the former president of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico, now head of the 5-Star Movement’s guarantee committee, called the reform “bungled and sloppy”.

The text will amend three articles of the Constitution: Article 88 on the head of state’s power to dissolve the Chambers, Article 92 on the prime minister’s appointment, and Article 94 on the motion of confidence and no-confidence in the government.

Meloni’s reform proposal envisages a directly elected prime minister, as well as a law that would give the winning coalition or party 55% of the seats in parliament, making it easier for its laws to be passed – but, as Meloni confirmed in a press conference on 3 November, “deliberately” does not address a possible runoff system between two candidates.

A ‘completely anomalous’ proposal

However, according to constitutionalist and former Democratic Party (PD/S&D) parliamentarian Stefano Ceccanti, the proposal is “completely anomalous compared to the various proposals seen so far and to European standards”.

The text appears to be a far cry from previous proposals for a directly elected prime minister, as these were mostly based on an indication (rather than direct election) of the prime minister combined with a predominantly majority system and powers similar to those of the German Chancellor: confidence in the Chancellor alone by a single Chamber; power to ask the head of state for the revocation as well as the appointment of ministers; constructive no-confidence with the indication of a new prime minister with an absolute majority; power to ask for early elections if defeated on confidence.

Speaking of the bill approved by Meloni’s government, Ceccanti also told Euractiv Italy that while it envisages the prime minister’s direct election, it does not come with such powers: both chambers still have to agree on no-confidence in the prime minister; revoking ministers still requires going through the individual no-confidence of the individual minister.

Ceccanti also points out that the text does not correspond to the simple scheme envisaged for Italian municipal elections, the so-called “mayor of Italy”, based on the “simul stabunt simul cadent” (together they will stand or together they will fall) between the prime minister and assembly.

Speaking of the proposal to avoid technical governments or coalitions of different political orientations whereby it would also be possible to rebuild a majority with the same prime minister or another member of the same majority in case a government falls, Ceccanti said:

“Except for the ethereal call for continuity of the programme, the second premier can construct a majority as he wishes. In this way, conflict between the leaders of the majority parties is encouraged”.

(Simone Cantarini | Euractiv.it)

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