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Italy: Berlusconi votes in critical constitutional reform referendum00:59

Italy: Berlusconi votes in critical constitutional reform referendum

Italy, Rome
December 4, 2016 at 11:23 GMT -00:00 · Published

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi cast his vote in a potentially decisive constitutional referendum in Rome, Sunday.

In the past weeks, Berlusconi has advocated the 'No' vote, arguing that voting in favour of the constitutional reform may pave the way for a dictatorship.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has pledged to resign if his 'Yes' vote fails to win, potentially initiating a general election.

The reforms proposed by Renzi would remove the so-called perfect bicameralism where currently the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate have the exact same powers within the legislative process.

If the 'Yes' vote wins, the powers of the Senate would be reduced, its members would be cut from 315 to 100, and instead of being elected directly the Senators would be made up of regional mayors, council heads and five other members to be selected by the president. The Senate would also be stripped of the right to hold no confidence votes in the government.

The prime minister says the reforms would end legislative gridlock and increase political stability in Italy, which has had 60 governments since 1948.

Opponents, spearheaded by The Five Star Movement and Northern League, say the proposals would concentrate too much power in the prime minister's hands.

Some 50 million Italians have the right to vote in the referendum. Voting began on Sunday at 07:00 (06:00 GMT) and ends at 23:00 (22:00 GMT), with results expected early on Monday.

Italy: Berlusconi votes in critical constitutional reform referendum00:59
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Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi cast his vote in a potentially decisive constitutional referendum in Rome, Sunday.

In the past weeks, Berlusconi has advocated the 'No' vote, arguing that voting in favour of the constitutional reform may pave the way for a dictatorship.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has pledged to resign if his 'Yes' vote fails to win, potentially initiating a general election.

The reforms proposed by Renzi would remove the so-called perfect bicameralism where currently the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate have the exact same powers within the legislative process.

If the 'Yes' vote wins, the powers of the Senate would be reduced, its members would be cut from 315 to 100, and instead of being elected directly the Senators would be made up of regional mayors, council heads and five other members to be selected by the president. The Senate would also be stripped of the right to hold no confidence votes in the government.

The prime minister says the reforms would end legislative gridlock and increase political stability in Italy, which has had 60 governments since 1948.

Opponents, spearheaded by The Five Star Movement and Northern League, say the proposals would concentrate too much power in the prime minister's hands.

Some 50 million Italians have the right to vote in the referendum. Voting began on Sunday at 07:00 (06:00 GMT) and ends at 23:00 (22:00 GMT), with results expected early on Monday.

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