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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 31 gennaio 2014 alle ore 04:59.
L'ultima modifica è del 31 gennaio 2014 alle ore 08:30.


Yes, it is true, I confess it. I have the fault of distinguishing what’s doable from what’s desirable. I like double round winner-takes-all electoral districts. I have a few doubts, which Giovanni Sartori does not seem to have, on the French semi-presidential system, which according to other scholars is really a hyper-presidential one. But I have no doubts on the goodness of French districts.

I would like them to be the pivot of Italy’s new electoral system. Unfortunately, I am sure that this desire of mine, here and now, is not implementable.

The reasons are political—as well as empirical—and evidently Sartori does not get them.

That is why instead of his “exact solutions”, I would rather try to understand and suggest which improving modifications of the status quo are realistically possible today—not tomorrow. Italy does not need proposals on “exact” electoral systems, but rather on a reform that—no matter how imperfect—would replace the proportional system that the Constitutional Court left us with—a more functioning system able, at the same time, to find the parliamentary votes necessary to be approved. Here is my sin, as an “adviser of the Prince.”

As for the comparison between the British winner-takes-all system and the majority prize included in the Italicum, I go back to what I already wrote (see ‘Il Sole 24 ore’ on January 28th) and that Sartori has banally misunderstood. All majoritarian systems tend to transform a minority of votes into a majority of Seats. As I already pointed out, in the 2005 elections, Tony Blair obtained 55 percent of Seats with just 35 percent of votes.

The difference between the British and the Italian majoritarian systems is that, in Britain, the prize is earned on a district-by-district basis while in Italy, with the new “Italicum” proposed system the “first past the post” principle Sartori seems to like so much only applies at a national level. Whoever gets one more vote than the others has the absolute majority: in one round if he or she gets at least 37 percent of the votes; in two if nobody passes this threshold. And it is not clear why this threshold is calculated on survey forecasts. Why do—or should—surveys have anything to do with this?

There is no way of knowing, today, who might—or might not—reach that number. The threshold makes, on one side, the Constitutional court happy and, on the other, Silvio Berlusconi happy, as he hopes—with a relatively low limit—to win in the first round. It is true that a similar system does not exist in any other country, yet not even the alternative vote used in Australia—a very good electoral system—is used elsewhere.

The Italicum is not a novelty for us. The electoral systems used in cities, provinces and regions are all versions of it. The reasons for this “popularity” lies in the fact that this kind of system allows the ability to combine party fragmentation and governability. If they exceed the entrance thresholds, parties get seats, but in order to be part of governing majorities they have to ally before—not after—the vote.

The coalition who obtains one—even a single—vote more than the others is handed the helm of government. In the Italicum case we must add that it looks a lot like the model used to elect mayors in municipalities with more than 15,000 residents. It is not the same thing, but, once implemented, it will produce a modification of our form of government because voters will understand that the ballots they cast will decide who will lead the country; especially in the case of a second round of voting (runoff election).

That way, there will be a Prime Minister “directly” elected by the people and a President of the Republic elected by the Parliament. Is it better or worse than the French-style semi-presidential (or hyper-presidential) system Sartori likes so much? This deserves a discussion—not whether or not Beppe Grillo decides for his party members. This is just another example of “Sartori-an unrealism.”