U.S. Markets

Italy to postpone March 29 referendum on number of lawmakers due to coronavirus: sources

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government will postpone a referendum over legislation to cut the number of parliamentarians that was slated for March 29, due to the country’s coronavirus outbreak, political sources said on Thursday.

A new date for the referendum has not yet been decided, the sources said.

Italy has been the country worst hit by coronavirus in Europe, with some 107 deaths and 3,089 cases registered in the past two weeks, forcing the government to introduce increasingly stringent measures to try to slow the contagion.

The law, championed by the ruling 5-Star Movement, was approved by parliament in October by an overwhelming majority.

However, many parliamentarians quickly set to work to try to block the reform, which would reduce the number of deputies to 400 from 630 and cut the senators to 200 from 315.

Constitutional reforms involving the workings of parliament can be halted and put to a referendum if one fifth of the members of one of the two houses sign a petition requesting it within three months of the reform being passed in parliament.

Reporting By Gavin Jones