Having failed with all her other manifesto promises, Scianel is now going for the big one – a directly elected Prime Minister. Of course, her problem is that means a change to the Constitution – something that the Italians are notoriously resistant to. The Big Idea is that to make voting even more complicated than it already is, you will now have another vote for the PM. The biggest party will get a ‘prize’ of 55% of the seats – so scraping in with a 26% share as she did, will get you an absolute majority.
Of course Scianel is being disingenuous. She released a video message yesterday asking if the people wanted to vote for the PM or the politicians. As it stands, it is obviously the people who vote, the biggest party or coalition being asked to form a government, so the devil is in the detail.
The directly elected PM would have a 5 year mandate – seemingly irrespective of the composition of parliament. It would be entirely feasible to have a right wing PM with a left wing government under these proposals. There will be no limit on the tenure of the post, so you could end up with a PM for life.
The small print also gets rid of the life senators – always a thorn in the flesh for governments as they tend to be unaligned to any particular party and speak their mind.
All of this would only serve to diminish the power of the President of the Republic, which will go against the grain for nearly all Italians.
It would be much more sensible to draw up a decent election bill, which has sadly eluded the Italians since the Republic was first constituted. Put in a few clauses like, switching parties means you have to have a by election, a limit of 5% for the smaller parties to stop two men and a dog having a ludicrously big influence on the direction of government, and stopping MP’s having a second job – or in most cases a first job which they continue to do while sitting in parliament.