82 million amendments stall Renzi's reform

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Roberto Calderoli from the Northern League gleefully announced his amendments. Photo: Vicenzo Pinto/AFP
15:44 CEST+02:00
Italy's far-right, anti-euro Northern League party on Wednesday submitted more than 82 million computer-generated amendments to a draft constitutional reform in a bid to trump the bill.

The immense list could still be rejected in one clean sweep by the Senate president, as Italy's upper house currently enjoys extensive powers to block and delay legislation.

If passed, the reform - initiated by Northern League's arch-foe Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - would replace the Senate with a much less influential second chamber comprising regional representatives.

"Today I submitted 82,730,460 amendments to the constitutional law being studied by the Senate: every means are permitted, including this one, when it comes to saving democracy," said Roberto Calderoli, a Northern League leader and Senate vice-president.

"I am pretty sure I've beaten all the records," he beamed.

The idea is simple: a computer programme creates millions of versions of the same sentence by changing a full-stop or a letter, producing each time a new amendment designed to smother the reform bid. Senate President Pietro Grasso may declare all the submissions inadmissible in the coming days.

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Even so, the rules require the authorities to print out each submission on a separate sheet of paper. According to the Italian news agency AGI, this would mean the waste of 412 tonnes of paper.

The constitutional reform bill, which supporters say will ease Italy's notorious political gridlock, is currently in its third review in the Senate. It must then return to the lower house of parliament before it is put to a referendum, likely in 2016.

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