Das neue italienische Wahlrecht: immer noch verfassungsrechtlich fragwürdig?

Sentence 01/2014 published on the 15th of January 2014 by the Italian Constitutional Court declared the Electoral Law 270 of the 21st of December 2005 unconstitutional. The law (famously known in Italy as the Porcellum or “pigsty” to stress the quality of its content) had been drafted by a member of the right-wing xenophobic Lega Nord (Northern League) party. The Northern League was at the time in government together with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party and the law was approved by the ruling coalition against the votes of all opposition parties.

While the law drew harsh criticism from a variety of political scientists, constitutional experts and public commentators both in Italy and abroad for its many shortcoming, the Constitutional Court concentrated its criticism of Law 270 on fundamentally two aspects.

A first criticism of the Court pertained to the fact that the “electoral prize” (premio di maggioranza) that was to be granted to the party or coalition that had won the majority of the popular vote was to be assigned without this having had to reach a minimum threshold in the percentage of the total popular vote obtained. Such an arrangement would have made it possible, in theory, for a party or coalition that had obtained a very low percentage of the popular vote but just one vote more than the second-best performing party or coalition to effectively be given an absolute majority in at least one of the two chambers of Parliament.

A second critique of the Constitutional Court had to do with the exceptional length of the “blocked lists” (liste bloccate) provided at the ballot box. (NB: Italian citizens cannot vote for an MP but, rather, only for a party which presents its candidates in a pre-determined order) ...

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