Italians voted overwhelmingly to adopt a law that would amend the country’s constitution to reduce the number of MPs in its national parliament by 30 percent in a countrywide referendum held on Monday and Tuesday.
The law was first proposed in 2019 as a cost-saving measure by the populist Five Star Movement political party. While it was approved by both houses of parliament in October, the Italian constitution mandates a nationwide vote before the ratification of any law that amends the constitution. The vote was originally scheduled for March 29 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal eliminates nearly 350 MPs, with the Senate shrinking from 315 to 200 seats and the Chamber of Deputies decreasing from 630 to 400 seats. Five Star estimated that the law would save taxpayers €1 billion over the next decade thanks to the elimination of salaries and benefits for the removed seats. All of the major political parties endorsed the law.
The law passed with a sizable majority. Out of the 26 million ballots cast, almost 70 percent voted to approve the change. The changes to the size of the parliament will go into effect with the next general election, which will take place by 2023.
In a statement made to BBC, Italian Foreign Minister and senior Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio hailed the victory as allowing the country to “go back to having a normal parliament, with fewer privileges” for the politicians.