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Italian parliament OKs constitutional amendment

[JURIST] The Italian Senate [official website, in Italian] on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that grants increased powers to both the prime minister and to regional governments within Italy [JURIST news archive]. Legislators approved the changes by a 170-132 vote, bringing to a close months of vigorous debate on the issue that at times threatened to break up the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official profile]. However, because the reforms were not approved by a two-thirds majority in the legislature, they will not take effect unless approved in a referendum scheduled for April 2006. Known as the devolution bill, the amendment will grant the country's 20 regional governments autonomy over healthcare, schools and police. Opponents to the changes argued that they would disrupt national unity and result in more bureaucracy at the regional level. The amendment also grants the prime minister more power, including the authority to dissolve parliament and to select and dismiss ministers, changes that will likely result in more stable governments in the country. The amendment changes about 50 of the 139 articles of the Italian Constitution [text]. La Repubblica has local coverage [in Italian] of the amendment. Reuters has more.

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