Italy: Shooting Down The Snipers

Shooting Down The "Snipers"

Italy's M.P.s have long enjoyed a luxury in West European democracies: a secret ballot. Free to vote as they pleased, ignoring party discipline and constituents, parliamentarians often defeated their own governments on key legislation. The franchi tiratori, or snipers, were a primary cause of instability in Italian politics -- and largely responsible for the frequent changes of government. Last week the six-month-old coalition of Prime Minister Ciriaco De Mita said, "Enough."

Deputies will now vote openly on the budget and other financial issues. But secrecy will be maintained for votes on constitutional amendments, "matters of conscience," such as abortion, and matters...

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