Referendum on constitutional reform to be held on 4 December

Italy goes to the polls to confirm or reject overhaul of parliament, other changes.

The government of prime minister Matteo Renzi has set 4 December as the date for the consultative referendum on a controversial constitutional reform to scrap the senate in favour of a smaller, indirectly elected body of local representatives with limited law-making powers.

The reform was approved definitively by parliament in April but lawmakers asked for it to be put to referendum before passing into law.

Unlike a referendum to abrogate an existing law, no quorum is required.

Renzi is staking his political credibility on winning the referendum and initially suggested he might resign if the ‘no’ vote prevails.

In addition to abolishing Italy’s symmetric bicameral parliament, the reform also does away with the National Council on Economy and Labour (CNEL) and completes the elimination of Italy's 110 provinces.

Opponents of the reform, including members of a left-wing faction within Renzi’s own Partito Democratico (PD), are afraid the constitutional changes combined with the new Italicum electoral law will tip the balance of power away from parliament towards a stronger executive and prime minister.

The Italicum provides for a two-round system of voting for the chamber of deputies with a large majority for the winning party (not coalition).

See related article.

Laura Clarke