The Italian president has issued a challenge to Silvio Berlusconi by blocking an overhaul of the legal system. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi vetoed the bill, sending it back to parliament to be debated once again. The prime minister used his majority in parliament to push through the package of measures at the start of this month. Berlusconi argues the changes will streamline and depoliticize the justice system.
But critics say the legislation is unconstitutional and would undermine the independence of the judiciary. The proposals aim to separate the career paths of public prosecutors and judges. Candidates would have to pass a test to change from one job to the other. The reforms have sparked unprecedented protests, with magistrates staging a series of strikes. The parliament could now make amendments to the legislation, or, if it votes through the package once again, the president would be obliged to accept it.