Plans for the highly controversial reform of Italy’s constitution will have to be ratified by a referendum of the country’s people. Despite a “yes” vote in parliament last night, the proposed legislation did notget the necessary approval of two thirds of the Chamber, and so goes to a public vote.Leader of the opposition, Romano Prodi, has launched the beginning of referendum proceedings.
The law will give more decision-making muscle to Italy’s 20 regions, and will strengthen the role of the prime minister. In addition, the regions will be given almost total autonomy on health, education and local policing. The current constitution was drawn up in 1948 and was designed to prevent the emergence of another dictator like Benito Mussolini.Critics say the bill will starve the poorer southern regions and create costly new bureaucracies.