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Selina Pascale

Selina Pascale


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About Me:I'm a graduate student studying International Criminal Law and first started writing for King's News almost 4 years ago! My hobbies include reading, travelling and charity work. I cover many categories but my favourite articles to write are about mysteries of the ancient world, interesting places to visit, the Italian language and animals!

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The Italian Electoral System

The Italian Electoral System

Italy is famous for its notorious party-politics  and instable government. Here is King’s News’ very own version of a country profile on how elections take place in Italy. Analysing electoral systems is probably the most tedious part of Italian politics to learn, but once you know the basics – or at least start to familiarise yourself with the terms – you can better understand how corruption and crime are embedded in the Italian State.



The Italian Republic. Formed in 1861.

The electoral system:

The Italian electoral system has been subject to drastic changes since the 1990s and the current Italian Electoral Law, approved on the 14th December 2005, is based on party-lists representation with a series of thresholds which encourages parties to form coalitions. The law officially recognises coalitions of parties and in order to form a coalition a party should sign its program and notify the prime-ministership of its support towards the candidate of the coalition. In Italy the executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister (Il Presidente del Consiglio) who leads the Council of Ministers; the legislative power is divided into two houses of parliament which each hold separate elections, the Chamber of Deputies (La Camera dei Deputati) which is the lower house and the Senate (Il Senato), the upper house; lastly, the judiciary form of power remains in the hands of the high council of judiciary. The Current President of Italy is Giorgio Napolitano, who was first made President in 2006 and was re-elected in 2013, whereas the Presidente Del Consiglio is Matteo Renzi, who has been prime Minister since February 2014. You can vote for the lower house at the age of 18 but you can only participate in Senate elections when you reach the age of 25. In regards to the Chamber of Deputies, the Italic peninsular is divided into a specific number of districts, whereas senators are elected by region. You can find that on the lists candidates are ranked in order of priority so if a party wins five seats, then the first five candidates on the list would usually receive the seats in parliament. An interesting fact about Italian elections is that the 2005 electoral law discussed above was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Italy as apparently it did not fulfil certain requirements regarding the effectiveness which allowed voters to freely express their needs through casting a vote. This occurred in 2013 which means that technically the current Italian Parliament is in direct breach of laws which oversee the right to vote for citizens!

Italy is divided into 26 districts for the Chamber of Deputies (Lombardy has three constituencies, Piedmont, Veneto, Lazio, Campania, and Sicily each have two, and all other regions have one) whereas there are 20 regions for the Senate. During each election a total of 945 members of parliament are elected; the Chamber of Deputies has 650 members whilst the Senate has 315.

The last elections

28 parties ran for the last Italian elections, held in 2013. A large amount of these are newly formed and many people do not know of them, others have unfamiliar names but are gaining prominence, such as the Common Good (which the latest combination of the Democratic Party, socialists and others created solely for the 2013 general elections) and Peppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement.

As stated previously the Italian electoral system provides a series of thresholds. For Deputies this is 4% nationwide, whereas Senates must reach 8% of total votes at a regional level as demonstrated below.

Deputies: 4% nationwide

Senate: 8% regional level

Deputies: parties in coalitions 2%, coalitions 10%

Senate: parties in coalitions 3%, coalitions 20%

Technically Parliament is elected every 5 years, although due to political instability in Italy this can be subject to change. Generally the President of the Republic is elected for a seven year term by the two houses of Parliament in joint session.

Turnout in the last election

According to IDEA which provides statistical information on voter turnout, during the last elections in Italy (2013) 75.19% of the population voted. There has been a slight decrease as statistics show that previous elections had higher percentages: 80.54% in 2008 and 81.44% in 2001 but the decline is not alarmingly drastic for now. It is also worth noting that when Italy had compulsory voting the turnout level was higher. The last elections with compulsory voting were in 1992 when turnout was 87.44%.

Italy’s electoral changes

Italy’s electoral system has undergone many changes. The current 2005 electoral law replaced the Additional Member electoral system which had been active since the 1993. This law was nicknamed “Matarellum” in honour of its rapporteur Sergio Mattarella. The 2005 law which sought the rectify any legal inconsistencies was nicknamed “Porcellum” (meaning “small pig” in vulgar Latin) by political scientist Giovanni Sartori referring to it being seen as a ‘porcata’ by many voters and politicians. Hoping to solve the problem of party system instability, the Democratic Party, Forza Italia and Angelino Alfano all agreed to support a new electoral law: Italicum. The new law would be based on the Spanish model with a broad PR system at its core. However, the majority prize would be of 18 per cent for coalitions or parties achieving at least 35 per cent of votes. If all coalitions and parties failed to reach 35% then a second round of voting would take place. This new electoral reform is being disputed in hindsight of future elections, whether it will be enacted and, if so, whether it will become yet another one of Italy’s ‘porcella’ is an entirely different story.




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