ROME, March 12 (Xinhua) - The lower house of the Italian parliament passed an electoral bill on Wednesday, which was considered as one of the major reforms the cabinet led by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed to implement.
The bill passed after almost two weeks of debate, with 365 votes in favor, 156 votes against, and 40 abstentions. It will now go to the Senate, where it might still be amended before the final approval.
Seen as a most relevant reform for the country, the electoral bill aims at granting more political stability. The current electoral law was declared partially unconstitutional by Italian Highest Court last year, and it has been long blamed for producing unclear majorities in parliament and, consequently, unstable governments.
The new law would provide a premium of 15 percent of parliamentary seats to the party or coalition that gains at least 37 percent of the votes. In case no one obtains that score, the two major parties or alliances would run in a second turn, with the winner receiving the premium.
The bill would also provides short closed lists of candidates and raise the thresholds for entry in parliament at 12 percent for coalitions, at 4.5 percent for each party in a coalition and at 8 percent for any party that runs alone.
Disagreement over some key aspects of the reform slowed down the debate for several days. Parties had been especially at odds over minimum women quotas in the voting lists, the new higher thresholds to entry in parliament, which made smaller groups worrying for their own survival, and over the system of closed lists that would not allow voters to express a preference on candidates.
The proposed amendments on such points, however, were rejected and the package passed without relevant changes.