Análisis Italian Electoral Reform: neither representation nor governability

30/10/2017

Gianfranco Pasquino es profesor Emérito de Ciencia Política de la Universidad de Bolonia

After the declaration of unconstitutionality of some parts, not at all marginal, of the electoral law unwarily called Italicum, the leaders of the Partito Democratico have examined other ways, not very different, to draft a new electoral law. I do not want to review this awful soap opera, but only to highlight the most essential landmarks. The current approach, for what I refuse to use a macaronic Latin, is a text signed by the PD parliamentary leader in the Chamber of Deputies, Ettore Rosato. Two thirds of the members of parliament will be elected using a proportional method in short lists, with not more than four candidates, and a third in uninominal colleges. Nevertheless, voters will not be able to cast two votes, but just one. Hence, they will not be able to choose both the candidate they prefer in the uninominal college and another party in the proportional part, just like it is possible—and it is widely done—with the current proportional law in Germany.

Proportional lists are blocked, that is, voters do not have any possibility of choice, thus the candidates will be elected according to the order decided by party leaders and, in any case, certainly in the PD, according to the order decided by faction leaders. It is already being discussed the quotas that will be assigned to the orlandiani (elected by the Minister of Justice Andrea Orlandi) and to the franceschianiani (elected by the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini). Since multi candidatures are possible, until five, the party and faction leaders, starting with Alfano (leader of Alleanza Popolare) are almost sure of their reelection.

According to some politicians, in particular—obviously—Mr. Rosato but also Mr. Fiano, who presented the previous law—which did not pass—, this electoral law, which does not exist in any other part of the world, would guarantee governability. It is not clear at all why it would do so or what governability is for those who defend it, unless they are referring to concoct a majority large enough to support a government. Nevertheless, all this will depend on the coalition-building, unlikely to happen before voting, inevitably after, in Parliament, which is what happens in all parliamentary democracies, even though this has been demonized as a “fix”, “Consociationalism”, Grand Coalition for a long time, even inciting, with absolute nonsense, Weimar’s tragic result (1919-1933).

In parliamentary democracies governability depends on and derives from a good parliamentary representation of the preferences and interests, of the expectations and ideals of voters. The government made of political parties and members of parliament that effectively represent their electorate will be stable and effective. With the Rosato Law, voters will not have any opportunity to choose their parliamentarians, who, at the same time, will not have any interest in getting in touch with voters who have not voted for them and from whom does not depend their reelection, which depends on party leaders who placed them in the head of the list or in “safe” uninominal colleges. Afterwards, we know it because we have seen it, when the wind changes, parliamentarians look for political parties and leaders that can make them candidates again. More than 350 parliamentarians have changed their group and party since 2013 until today.
Some constitutionalist maintain that the Rosato Law also includes many unconstitutional elements. It is possible, however, the Constitutional Court will only be able to intervene once the law is approved and maybe already applied, with a new existing Parliament, which soon will be delegitimize. Some have quickly written that this law is immoral. It can be defended that it has “obscene” elements, but this opinion seems sterile to me and, naturally, will not have any impact on the opinion of members of parliament who will approve it. I believe that an electoral law that gives more power to political parties and leaders than to citizens-voters is wrong and giving that democracy means “power of the people”, very little democratic. It will give bad and inappropriate political representation and will not contribute, in fact, to governability.

Traducido por María Maseda

#Italia #constitucionalidad #reforma electoral #gobernabilidad