It is so far so good for Silvio Berlusconi in his controversial bid to re-writeItaly’s electoral law. The lower house of parliament has backed the prime minister’s plans to shake-up the voting system, although opposition parties boycotted the final vote.They claim the changes are part of a government ploy to save it from certain defeat in a forthcoming general election. The leader of the main opposition party was scathing. Piero Fassino of the Democrats of the Left (DS) accused the premier of trying to hang on to the mast of a sinking ship. Berlusconi wants to return proportional representation to Italy. The current system is a mix of PR and “first past the post.” He says the new system will be more democratic, providing a fairer parliamentary reflection of the strength of the various parties. Under the current rules, recent opinion polls indicate the opposition would win a large majority. Hence the accusations that the government is trying to tailor a new law to suit itself. The proposal now passes to the upper house Senate for final approval, which looks certain to come ahead of the election, due by May next year.