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Executive-legislative Relations Reform Options for Italy

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I recommend that Italy switch to a U. S. -style presidential E-L system. Background: Executive branch power division poses a risk to political stability. With a President of the Republic and a President of the Council, there is a lack continuity. Italy’s weak veto in the executive branch is insignificant because it is rarely used; even when the power is exercised, it carries little weight. Requiring a coalition to achieve a legislative majority imposes contradictory policies. Consequently, government action has been overturned and little meaningful legislation has been passed. A U. S. -style presidential system addresses the lack of continuity in executive leadership. There are two problems with Italy’s executive branch: division of top authority and varying tenure. Italy elects a president through an electoral college and a prime minister is appointed by the president. Because the president and prime minister do not run together, nor are they put into power at the same time, there is often a disconnect in goals.

In transitioning to a U. S. system, a more efficient singular president would serve as both the head of state and head of government and would be entitled to a fixed term, barring criminal action. Proportional representation requires coalitions, leading to legislative stagnation. Even with a minimum winning coalition (MWC), compromise must be made to enact change. After 2018 elections in Italy, the League, who won the most votes, and M5S, who won the most seats, still needed a coalition to form a majority. The two combined efforts; however, in this unlikely alliance, stark economic differences have stalled legislation. In switching to a U. S. -style presidential E-L system, both branches of the legislature would be elected by single-member district plurality (SMDP). As Duverger’s law states, SMDP often leads to a two-party system, which would stabilize Italy’s legislative branch by allowing a single party to hold a majority. America’s system of checks and balances is superior to the current Italian system. Italy’s weak veto privilege forces another absolute majority and is rarely used. An American presidential veto forces Congress to obtain a supermajority of votes (2/3), presumably forcing the legislature to bolster more support in favor of the bill. In Italy, passing a vote of no confidence, removes a prime minister. In America, congress has more legislative oversight stipulations. Without a vote of no confidence, a president’s tenure may only be cut short for unlawful action.

Therefore, he is better equipped to lead the state in whatever way he sees fit, without worrying about unpopularity in the assembly. On the other hand, Germany requires a threshold share: 5% of PR votes or 3 SMDP seats to get any PR seats. This threshold that Italy currently lacks could provide the party stability that Italy so desperately needs. A German-style system provides flexibility for more voter perspectives to be represented, whereas a U. S. -system could disenfranchise some factions of voters, leading to political alienation. This plurality system, like that of current Italy, most often yields results in which parties are forced to align in coalitions to obtain a majority of the seats in parliament, introducing conflicting views into parliament that stall legislation. Additionally, a threshold share results in voting blocks that narrowly miss 5% and are still unrepresented. A German-style system would be a smoother transition for Italy than a U. S. -style system. Germany shares a president and prime minister (called a chancellor), so the change would not be as drastic as switching to a single headed executive branch. Adopting the German-style government would continue to mitigate presidentialism, allowing parliament to hold significant power.

However, major reform is exactly what Italy needs, even if it means suffering short-term losses. If political instability over the past 50 years isn’t enough proof, Politico explained on August 16, 2018 that, “Italy is bracing for a debt crisis like the one it suffered in 2011,” continuing to prove the dire need for change. Germany’s constructive vote of no confidence may increase executive stability. Italy’s vote of no confidence allows parliament to remove a prime minister without establishing a replacement. Switching to a constructive vote of no confidence eliminates ambiguity after such a grand decision. Additionally, the constructive vote occurs less often because a coalition is forced to agree on whom will replace the current prime minister. Nonetheless, a constructive vote of no confidence, just like an ordinary one, can decrease government stability due to unpopularity in parliament. While it may be better than a vote of confidence in that it occurs less frequently, and provides a path for repair, it forces leaders to be concerned with popularity.

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Executive-Legislative Relations Reform Options For Italy. (2020, July 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/executive-legislative-relations-reform-options-for-italy/
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Executive-Legislative Relations Reform Options For Italy. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/executive-legislative-relations-reform-options-for-italy/> [Accessed 24 Nov. 2020].
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