Italy votes on reforms new Cabinet likely

April 19, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

ROME -- Under smiling spring skies and amid a confusion of multihued ballots, Italy voted yesterday in a two-day national referendum on electoral reform that could revolutionize its political future.

However the vote goes, one early result is likely to be a government reshuffle in coming days.

Even before the returns are in after a second day of voting today, Prime Minister Giuliano Amato says he will confer with President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro this afternoon on the formation of a new government.

Electoral reform, key among eight referendum questions, each with its own distinctive colored ballot, is expected to win easily. Supported by all major political parties, the reform would scrap the system of proportional representation that has given Italy 51 weak coalition governments since World War II.

About one-third of Italy's 48 million voters had cast ballots by nightfall yesterday, a higher turnout than in other recent referendums.

Final results are expected to be announced today.

Supporters of electoral change, which would initially require direct election of two-thirds of the Senate, called for a 60 percent yes vote as a signal that Italians want to strip power from long-dominant political parties lately scarred by a nationwide corruption scandal.

Mr. Amato, the custodian of a beleaguered government that has lost seven Cabinet ministers since he took office in June, said over the weekend that his work was "almost finished."

Mr. Amato, who is 53, has said repeatedly that he would offer to step down after the referendum.

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