(Qui la auto-traduzione in italiano)
In Oct. 2020 Italy enacted a reform in the number of the members of the Parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate). This reform has unintended consequences for governability.
The reform was passed on the back of outrage of political squandering with the aim of cutting the cost of parliament. But no thought was given to the systemic impacts such a reform would have.
Parliament (Chamber+Senate) is reduced from 945 to 600 MPs, but the government is not touched (and could not be) and neither is the number and especially the functioning of parliamentary committees, without an eventual, future reform of parliamentary working rules.
Not all parliamentarians participate in all votes. At the very least, the Presidents of the House and Senate, the Presidents of committees, and, most importantly, the members of the Cabinet and Subcabinet (which number at least about 70) should be excluded.Befoe
Before the reform, out of a total of 945 parliamentarians, at most 845 could theoretically be in a position to ensure their presence at votes, either in the assemblies or in committees. In reality, the number was much lower due to missions, illness, maternity, various commitments, but let’s take this first approximation to follow the logical thread; the conclusion will not change.
Majority must be guaranteed in all committees (28 between House and Senate) so the majority had to ensure (always!) 437 voters to be able to face a compact vote of the oppositions with 409 voters. A parliamentary majority expressing cabinet members had to have over a hundred more MPs than the opposition (532-413, or 56 percent majority and 44 percent opposition).
How do things change with the reduction of MPs ?
Out of a total of 600, about 500 would have to ensure attendance at votes, and to ensure majorities in committee, there would have to be at least 264 from the majority and 236 from the oppositions.
A parliamentary majority expressing cabinet members would have to have over a hundred more MPs than the opposition (364-236 or 61%/39%).
The conclusion is that in order to ensure governability and a parliamentary majority, the majority would have to win more than 60 percent of the seats. In reality, the numbers are even greater taking into account that committee Presidents do not vote, that attendance is reduced by missions, illnesses, political disagreements, changes of sides, and finally that there is not full symmetry between the House and the Senate so that in one chamber there will be a quieter situation but in the other a more critical one.
A 60/40 majority would not be enough to ensure governability: the majority must hold out in all votes while the opposition only needs to succeed once.
With the current electoral law it seems unlikely that one coalition would win 50 percent more seats than the other.
From this reasoning, it follows that any government will have to be supported by majorities broader than electoral coalitions, majorities to be found in the Parliament, after elections.
In Germany Konrad Adenauer, in the first Bundestag, had to govern with only one majority vote; today very detailed government pacts are signed and then executed, the drafting of which takes many months. Our Italian political spirit doesn’t seem similar to Germany’s.
More likely we will return to the “pentapartito” (majorities formed by five parties) and consociativism.