New Electoral LawFurther information: The new electoral system
During this second cabinet was also approved a new electoral law. A white paper for a proportional-only electoral system was presented to the Chamber of Deputies on September 13, 2005, only seven months before the 2006 general election. This reform, strongly backed by the centre-right Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, proposed a 4% threshold before a party gained any seats, and a majority bonus of (at least) 340 seats for the winning coalition, the total votes for each coalition being the sum of the votes of those coalition parties which had won at least 4% of the national votes. The new proposal was approved by parliament.
An electoral survey published on September 15, 2005 by the national left newspaper La Repubblica claimed that, with the initial proposal of electoral reform become law, the House of Freedoms would win the next elections 340-290, even if they won only 45% of votes and the opposition coalition The Union won 50%, because the Union also includes several small parties with less than 4% of national votes. This could have been avoided if the small opposition parties ran on a common ticket. Aim of this bill of reform was to reduce the number of parties, and particularly the moderate Left would have taken advantage in respect to the smaller radical left parties.
The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, commenting on the proposal, asked for the abolition of the 4% cut-off clause, whereas the National Alliance did not show any favour to this attempt of reform, with its leader Gianfranco Fini claiming to want first to vote for the constitutional reform, and then for the new voting system, on condition that the 4% cut-off were not repealed.
This proposal of law was strongly questioned by the opposition coalition, who defined it an "attempted coup". Opposition leader Romano Prodi said it was "totally unacceptable". Several newspapers politically oriented to the left nicknamed the electoral system proposal by the House of Freedoms as "Truffarellum", after "truffa" (Italian for "fraud") and the "Mattarellum", (from Sergio Mattarella), the most common name for the previous Italian electoral law (there is a recent custom to nickname new electoral systems by a somewhat Latinised version of the name of the lawmaker; another one is the system used in regional elections, the so-called "Tatarellum" from Pinuccio Tatarella).
Notably, some smaller opposition parties, such as Communist Refoundation Party and UDEUR Populars, support a proportional electoral law; nevertheless, they declared they were against an electoral reform by this parliament, because the current law would be changed too close to the 2006 general election.
The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had previously been a strong supporter of the plurality-based electoral law; in 1995, talking about his coalition, he even defined the plurality principle as "our religion".
A modified version of the first proposal, this time with a 2% threshold for entering Parliament and without vote of preference for candidates, but still without the support of the opposition, was presented to the Chamber of Deputies. The voting count started on October 11; the lower house of Italian parliament then approved the electoral reform on October 14. The new electoral was then eventually approved on December 16, 2005, and countersigned by President Ciampi on December 23, 2005.
Roberto Calderoli, the main author of this electoral reform, defined this law "a rascality" (using the mildly vulgar term "porcata").
Ironically, the new electoral law allowed Mr Prodi to count on a large majority in the Chamber and to obtain majority also in the Senate, where The House of Freedoms actually had more votes (49.88% vs. 49.18% of the Union).
Read more about this topic: Berlusconi III Cabinet
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