Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrives for a joint press conference at the Chigi Palace in Rome, on May 2, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
ROME — Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday began meetings with opposition parties to discuss her plans to reform the constitution and end chronic political instability in the euro zone's third largest nation.
Although Italy has had almost 70 governments since World War Two, more than twice the number in Britain and Germany, repeated attempts to produce a more robust system have always floundered amid myriad, competing visions.
But critics say the system has resulted in revolving door coalitions that have weighed on the Italy's international credibility and made it hard to pursue badly needed reform
There is little optimism that this time will be any different, but Meloni said it was important to try to find broad support for change as she headed into talks with the main parliamentary parties.
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"We consider this to be an important confrontation for our democracy to approve measures that cannot be put off," she said.
Italy introduced numerous checks and balances in its 1948 constitution to try to prevent another dictator like Benito Mussolini from grabbing power.
But critics say the system has resulted in revolving door coalitions that have weighed on the Italy's international credibility and made it hard to pursue badly needed reform.
Meloni, whose right-wing bloc won elections last year, has said she is open to suggestions, but has made clear she would like to see the country adopt a presidential system, with the direct election of a powerful head of state.
"I think it is important to do such a reform with the largest consensus possible. This does not mean we will not do it if there is not a consensus," she told the opposition 5-Star Movement at the start of their meeting, her office said.
Any change to the constitution needs to secure a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament – something that is hard to envisage given the splintered nature of Italian politics. Failing that, any proposal must be put to a referendum.
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The last serious effort to bring about change failed in 2016 when the then prime minister Matteo Renzi resigned after a referendum rejected his plan to streamline the parliamentary system.
In the build up to Tuesday's talks, both the 5-Star and the centre-left Democratic Party have shown no enthusiasm for Meloni's suggestions.
"We did not come up with a shared position," former prime minister and 5-Star leader Giuseppe Conte told reporters after his talks with Meloni.