The survey, by the Ipsos polling institute for the daily Corriere
della Sera, offers encouragement for Renzi who pushed through the
proposals in the face of skepticism from many on his own side only
weeks after winning the leadership of the center-left Democratic
The package is being closely watched by Italy's European partners as
an indication of whether Renzi's arrival at the head of the largest
party in Prime Minister Enrico Letta's left-right coalition heralds
wider reforms of the economy, including a Jobs Act he has promised
in the next few weeks.
The proposals are designed to replace the current system, blamed for
the messy deadlock after last February's election which left no side
able to govern alone and forced the two main parties of the left and
right into a fragile coalition that has struggled to pass meaningful
The survey showed some 61 percent judged the package either
favorably or very favorably, against 35.5 percent opposed.
Renzi, who has increasingly overshadowed Letta even though he is not
a member of the government, also received backing for his decision
to defy party critics and seal a deal on the package with the PD's
The survey showed 50 percent, including 54 percent of PD voters and
75 percent of voters in Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, backed the
move. Some of Renzi's allies have criticized him for negotiating
with Berlusconi, who is barred from parliament after a conviction
for tax fraud.
The proposals would favor big parties and strong coalitions by
setting high minimum thresholds for entering parliament and
guaranteeing a strong majority for the winner with a run-off round
available if needed to separate the two leading parties.
A separate but related reform, intended to concentrate power in the
lower house of parliament and cut the power of regional governments,
is expected to be finalized next month.
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That part, which would also turn the Senate into a chamber of the
regions without the power to pass or block legislation, would
require more complicated constitutional changes that would take at
least a year to pass.
The measures on the voting system are intended to come before
parliament next week, where smaller parties which risk being wiped
out entirely are expected to press for changes.
A party would need to secure at least 5 percent of the national vote
to enter parliament as part of a coalition and at least 8 percent to
enter on its own.
On the basis of current opinion polls, that would eliminate the
centrist bloc in Letta's coalition as well as the small Left Ecology
Freedom party and the regionalist Northern League party, normally an
ally of Berlusconi.
The measures would not allow direct election of individual deputies,
instead leaving voters to choose a list of candidates proposed by
the parties, an element which has also been criticized as handing to
much power to party bosses.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie, editing by Alister Doyle)
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