Jan. 31 - A long-awaited electoral reform package has finally arrived in Italy's parliament with politicians set for intense discussion on an issue which has dogged Italian politics for decades. But passage of the measures through parliament could face opposition from some of Italy's smaller political parties who say they'll be disadvantaged. Hayley Platt reports.
Scuffles like this in Italy's Parliament aren't that unusual. Neither is political stalemate. Now new electoral reforms could change that. The proposals would favour strong coalitions or parties by setting high minimum thresholds for entering parliament. That would guarantee a majority for the winner with a run-off round if needed to decide the result. And some of Italy's smaller parties have voiced their opposition, who say they are still at a disadvantage. James Walston is from the American University of Rome. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR OF ITALIAN AND COMPARATIVE POLITICS AT THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF ROME, JAMES WALSTON, SAYING: "It is a controversial issue because the smaller parties might find themselves in difficulty, the choice of candidates is a big issue, at the same time there is agreement. It is very clear there is general agreement just to modify the present law which is unsatisfactory." Italy's successive governments are well documented. It's had more than 60 since the second world war. And only one - Berlusconi's - lasted its full five-year term. Some Italians seem tired of the political wrangling and are ready for change. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ROME BUSINESSMAN, ANTONELLO COLANDREA, SAYING: "It will certainly be more governable regardless of who wins, it will allow one party to get a real majority." (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ROME RESIDENT, VINCENZO CAMPO, SAYING: "It is not a priority for the country, but it is right that after so many years of talking about it there is the necessity to change it to proportional representation." The changes have already been agreed by Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and Matteo Renzi's Democratic party. They still need full parliamentary approval. A vote is due next week. It's hoped they will make it easier for the government to pass long-awaited economic reforms that will create jobs, boost growth and put Italy back on track. But the package faces a rough ride through parliament first.