ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella dissolved parliament on Thursday ahead of an election scheduled to be held on March 4.
The vote will be held using a new electoral law which was approved by parliament in October. Following is a description of how it works:
The bill envisages that some 36 percent of parliamentarians in both the upper and lower houses will be elected on a first-past-the-post basis, with the rest chosen by pure proportional representation (PR) via party lists.
Parties can stand alone or as part of broader coalitions. Single parties need to win at least 3 percent of the vote to gain seats, while coalitions need to take 10 percent.
Unlike the previous Italian electoral law, the new one, dubbed the “Rosatellum,” does not give an automatic majority to any party or group that wins more than 40 percent of the vote. With opinion polls split three ways between the center right, the center left and the maverick 5-Star Movement, there is unlikely to be a clear-cut winner in the election.
Voters get two voting slips - one for the Senate and one for the lower house. They can only put one cross on each slip, with that vote counted for both the first-past-the-post and PR segments. Under previous electoral systems, voters were able to split their vote between individual candidates and the parties.
Candidates can put their name down for the first-past-the-post ballot in one constituency, and also be on five PR lists in locations of their choosing. There will be two to four names on each party PR list. The party leaders will have a major say in whose names go on the lists.
In the lower house, 232 seats will be reserved for first-past-the-post winners, 386 will be reserved for the PR lists, and 12 will be reserved for overseas constituencies. In the Senate, 102 seats will go to first-past-the-post winners, 207 will go to the PR lists, and six will be for the overseas vote.
No more than 60 percent of the candidates on any of the lists can be of the same sex.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams