Italian Senate to hold final vote on electoral reform

Italy's Senate was expected Wednesday to give final approval to electoral reform proposed by Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government and bitterly opposed by the center-left opposition. The vote on the bill, which has already been approved in Italy's lower house, was expected later Wednesday.

The reform provides for a system of pure proportional representation, which Italians rejected in a 1993 referendum in a bid to make the legislature more directly elected.

Currently, three-quarters of the seats are filled by directly elected candidates, with the remainder attributed on a proportional representation basis. Critics say the reform risks returning Italy to the political instability of the postwar decades.

The opposition has also accused the government of trying to change the rules in its favor just months before general elections expected in April.

The conservatives say the reform would guarantee a fairer distribution of parliamentary seats. Berlusconi has defended the reform as "absolutely democratic,” reports the AP. I.L.

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