Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Electoral reform: could the "Porcellum" law be even worse?

In Italy, politicians are discussing an electoral reform. Nobody can deny that we need one.
Consider this: Roberto Calderoli, member of the Northern League and Minister during the last Berlusconi’s government, was the author of the actual electoral law. And he himself calls it “porcata”, that more or less could be translated as crap, junk. Indeed that law is now called “Porcellum” (pig in Latin).

Right now, the Italian electoral system is a variant of the proportional representation system, usually known as “Party-list proportional representation”. The main feature of the Italian system is that it offers a “reward for the majority” for the party, or coalition of parties, which gets the greatest number of votes. In other words, many seats are ensured for the first winning party (or coalition). 
Another feature is that lists are closed: voters cannot express their preferences for candidates, all the choices are made by the parties.
Last week Fabrizio Cicchito, leader of “People of Freedom” in the Chamber of Deputies, admitted that many well-known MPs were elected in Parliament only because of closed lists, otherwise they wouldn't even be there.
So, how is the new law going to be? I think I can claim very frankly that nobody has the faintest idea. Nobody understood a thing.  Translating an Italian expression: everything has been said, so as the opposite of everything. One day they say the law is done, the day after that they are working on it. Impossible to follow. 
What seems sure, for now, is that the leftist parties push for the reintroduction of preferences. While some parties from the right want to make it for possible for coalitions to be announced only after the election. This last feature would make the law, according to Antonio Di Pietro, former magistrate and leader of the party “Italy of Values”, a “super porcata”. Let’s give them some credit: if they have to do something, they do it well. Apparently, this law didn’t suck enough, so they want to make it worse. 
For now, let’s watch one of the highest moments of Italian politics: Minister Roberto Calderoli calling his own law a “porcata” and then explaining it by making no sense at all. Enjoy.  

“Mentana (host): Do you agree, even if you are the author of the (actual) law, that preferences should be reintroduced, otherwise it becomes a proportional in a majoritarian system with nominees…

Minister Calderoli: But see, I knew that this law here is “una porcata” (crap), I’ll tell you frankly.

Mentana: … Have I heard it right? It’s crap? You wrote it and it’s crap?

Calderoli: Yes, yes. When someone does “una porcata” without realising it, it’s another thing, (compared to) when someone does it deliberately to give troubles to both the left and the right, which now have to take into account not how they handle power, but the (Italian) people, the one that votes. Now they will have to answer to the people.”

Yes, please: somebody answer us and explain us why we are still paying this guy.