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Alfano – «No hype nor stonewalls but changes to harmonise the Chamber and the Senate» (Il Messaggero)

Minister Alfano, are we now headed directly towards elections?

“We must harmonise the two election systems for the Lower Chamber and the Senate, as was requested by President Mattarella. But I’m saying this loud and clear: it is not a way of buying time because we suggest an arthroscopic intervention. The ‘Italicum’, as amended by the Constitutional Court, must also apply to the Senate with only two additions: introduce a governance-assuring top-up for the winning coalition, even if it does not obtain 40% of the vote. And then, following the indications of the Constitutional Court, introduce an option mechanism for anybody elected in more than one constituency, in order to avoid sortation.”

But things could drag on for ages. Instead Renzi wants to vote already in the spring. Don’t you?

“I don’t want to go into dates. What we’re now witnessing is the birth of two parties: the stonewallers, represented by those who use the election law as a pretext to continue things as they are, and the hyped up, represented by those who all they want to do is hold an election, even with two different systems. I lead the party of common sense.”   

And what would that be? 

“Our motto is: one article, two paragraphs, six lines. This is enough to solve the problems raised by the Constitutional Court and also for political convenience.”

Is the hyped up party Renzi’s and the party of stonewallers Gentiloni’s? 

“No, this simplification is unacceptable. Because these line-ups are very diagonal and I hope that the Democratic Party takes our proposal seriously. I repeat: one article, two paragraphs, six lines. This is all we need to harmonise the election system for the two Chambers, which differ greatly the one from the other. At the Senate there is a coalition and at the Chamber of Deputies no. At the Chamber there is a majority bonus and at the Senate no. At the Chamber the cut-off point is 3%, at the Senate 4%. At the chamber there are heads of list in small constituencies, at the Senate there are the preferences in huge constituencies. It is all patently patchy and we need to do something about it.”

But won’t this need quite a lot of time? Renzi seems to be in a greater hurry than you.

“Ever since day one, I explained that we would not be the party of extraordinary lifesaving measures. Which means: if the legislature has breath enough to persist and go on doing something useful for the Country, let it go ahead. If it doesn’t, no.”

And does the Government have breath enough? Gentiloni says it does.

“A lot depends on the PD. The Parliament is made up of 945 MPs, 400 of which are PD. So the question you just asked me should be redirected to that party.”

In your opinion, aren’t all the members of the PD party in as much of a hurry as Renzi is?

“This is not my business and I don’t mind other people’s business. Of course, there is a point of political correctness that must be acknowledged and highlighted: parties speak through the mouth of their Secretary and of their Executive Committee members. What counts is not the voice of single movements but of the Secretary of the party and of that party’s executive committees.”

I am going to ask you again: when will we be called to vote?

“There is space for harmonising the election systems with no need to stonewall. The issue of the date of elections is in the hands of the President of the Republic, on whom we rely.”

But Mr Mattarella does not seem to want them soon. So what’s next? 

“The President of the Republic is assigned privileges by the Constitution and he exercises them with the wisdom and poise that he is notoriously endowed with and with the great constitutional competence that is characteristic of our Head of State.”

You tour Italy a lot. Don’t you have the perception that the citizens want to go and vote as soon as possible?

“The first surveys said the opposite. But we have to reason according to what is possible and beneficial for the Country.”

Do MPs instead mostly want to delay the election date?

“I think this is more than natural.”

But do you think it is possible that it is always the judges who decide instead of politicians, including on the issue of elections?

“This is not how things stand. Politicians made their decisions and the Constitutional Court, in line with constitutional provisions, reviewed those decisions. But now the decision is up to policy makers and the Parliament and it is far more complex than any of us would ever wish it to be.”