By Alessandra Cardone
ROME, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Italy's anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S) seemed ready to take a hard line on reforms again this week, after a recent meeting with ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) had raised hopes of positive developments.
In a message posted on its official website on Friday, M5S wrote any further gathering with PD was to be 'put on ice' until M5S members would give the green light to the issues discussed so far.
The move was widely regarded as an unofficial stop to negotiations.
Yet, since political reforms are now seen as a priority, last minute changes were not yet ruled out.
Delegations from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's PD and opposition M5S had met in Rome on Thursday over a new electoral law and other crucial reforms. Although it did not fully ease tensions between the two major forces, the meeting seemed to provide some positive breakthroughs and PM Renzi, who attended it, had commented positively on the outcome.
"The meeting went well. The 5-Star Movement opened up on several issues, for example on the run-off," Renzi said on Thursday.
Italian media kept a keen eye on the event and followed it with high expectations, since PD and M5S had already cancelled a discussion scheduled on July 7th, blaming each other for the failure.
The M5S had refused to take part in the reform process until June. On Thursday, they submitted clear proposals aimed at adjusting a draft electoral law that has already been passed by the Lower House in March.
This draft bill is based on a two-round system, with a wide majority premium for the winning party or coalition, and, according to the cabinet, it would aim at granting more political stability. The text has still to be discussed in Senate. As such, M5S's proposals might be considered further and, eventually, embedded partly in the draft.
On Thursday, Five-Star movement restated its idea of an electoral law based on a proportional representation with no majority premium, but corrected with a run-off between the two top scoring parties in case no one reaches a 50 percent plus one vote in the first round.
The proposal was still quite far from the draft law approved by the Chamber of Deputies, which had resulted from an agreement between PM Renzi and centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party's leader Silvio Berlusconi in January. Yet, it got a little closer to that blueprint and that might simplify future negotiations.
A motion regarding electoral preferences was also restated. The M5S asked to change the current draft, which maintains a system of so-called 'blocked-lists' and does not allow citizens to choose among candidates within a list.
The leading figure in M5S's delegation, vice-president of the Lower House Luigi Di Maio, said the movement wished to find "an agreement" with PD over stability, but was also keen to give more space to citizens. "We take the issue of political stability into great consideration, yet we want to give back to citizens the right to choose the candidate they like best," Di Maio said on Thursday.
Finally, M5S asked for a stricter rule to avoid convicted people to enter parliament. The current law, approved in December 2012, prevents from holding office in parliament or cabinet only those who were given a definitive sentence to no less than two years of prison.
The two parties upheld the discussion to another meeting. After latest M5S declarations, it is now to see if negotiations would go any further.
Cooperation between the two parties would not be irrelevant. M5S took 21 percent in May's elections for the European parliament, and is Italy's second largest party. The PD, with 41 percent of vote, is by far the leading one.
Italy's current electoral law was declared partially unconstitutional by the Highest Court last year, and it has been long blamed for producing unclear majorities in parliament and unstable governments.