Referendums are an arcane branch of politics, writes James Walston in his latest blog post; electoral systems even more so – combined they are normally as stimulating as a valium-camomile cocktail. But once again, Italy is different and yesterday’s news that the promoters of an election reform referendum managed to gather more than 1.2 million signatures is news indeed, and of much more interest than Berlusconi’s latest Montenegrin “fiancée”. If passed the referendum would abolish the very unpopular electoral law (nicknamed “porcellum”, a multiple pun I won’t try to translate, but the sense is close to “pigsty”) in which parliamentarians are in practice nominated by party bosses.
Having explained the mechanics of the referendum in Italy, how it has been used and to what effect in the past, Walston concludes:
If the referendum passes, Italy will revert to a mixed system with 75% of deputies elected in single member, UK or US style constituencies/districts and 25% from fixed party lists. Voters will have a much bigger voice in who represents them and will at least know who it is. But for the moment, it is all politicians who are considered fair game, a bit like lawyers in some other countries. On that score, have you heard the latest Sicilian politician joke? The Regional Government paid one of its employees 200 hours overtime in August… to clear snow. And, you’re right, it’s not a joke.
Read the whole of the blog post here.