Italy passes constitutional reform bill cutting seats in parliament

Italy on Tuesday passed a constitutional reform bill reducing the number of seats in parliament, with the final approval provided by the lower house.

Following a debate held on Monday, deputies largely supported the bill with 553 votes in favor, 14 votes against, and two abstentions.

It largely exceeded the qualified majority of 316 votes — half of the 630 deputies plus one — required in this case, since the new law amends the country’s constitution.

Under the reform, the number of elected members of parliament would be overall cut from 945 to 600. More specifically, the lower house’s seats would decrease from 630 to 400, and the senate would shrink from current 315 seats to 200.

The overhaul largely reshapes the country’s representation ratio, according to parliament’s official estimates based on statistics on the current population.

The number of inhabitants per deputy would in fact grow from 96,006 to 151,210, while that per senator from 188,424 to 302,420.

As required in all cases of constitutional amendments, the bill was approved twice by each chamber and in identical text during a lengthier-than-usual procedure starting in February.

According to estimates based on data provided in the latest lower house and senate’s budgets, the cut of seats would help reduce the costs of parliament by at least 81.6 million euros (89.4 million U.S. dollars) per year.

The reform would now bring government and parliament to work on a new electoral law, since electoral constituencies across the country would have to be modified.

The cut of seats should be put into practice starting with the next general election in 2023 according to the natural end of the current legislature.

Yet, the reform might still be subjected to a popular referendum to confirm or reject it, if such a request was filed according to constitutional rules over the next three months.