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Constitutional Referendum


Italians on December 4 rejected changes to the second part of the Italian Constitution, which sets rules for the organization and functioning of the State.
The changes proposed with the Boschi Law, after the name of Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi, and approved by Parliament were rejected by the majority of Italians: “No” to the reform won 59.11% of the popular vote while “Yes” got 40.89%. Turnout at the polls was quite high, reaching 68.48%. Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned almost immediately.
These are the main changes rejected by the voters:
1) The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate would no longer have perfectly identical powers. The Chamber of Deputies would remain intact in both its present composition and functions and it would be the only branch of Parliament granting or withdrawing support to governments. The Senate instead would be roughly a third of its current size (from 315 elected members currently to 95), and would represent Regions and Municipalities. Once the ancillary laws were passed (likely by 2018), its main duties would be to coordinate legislation between central and local levels of government, and preserve some control on laws of national interest in selected areas, including the Budget Law and European law. The Senate would also be involved in the appointment of constitutional judges.
2) Governments would be able to single out, with MPs' approval, “priority bills” which the floor of the House must have passed or rejected within 70 days. To counterbalance this fast-track authority given to the cabinet, there would be somewhat stricter limitations on the use of law-decrees.
3) The middle tier of three layers of local government (the Provinces) would be abolished. However they could be replaced by new entities representing aggregations of Municipalities.
4) Referenda (with higher quorums) could be held to propose laws rather than only to confirm or reject them, as is currently the case.
5) Several issues of national interest would go back to being handled at central (rather than regional) level: among them, the environment, ports and airports, energy production and distribution and job safety.

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