Italians voted to reduce the number of MPs by more than a third on Monday in a move expected to save the country tens of millions of euros.
Italian politicians have long had a reputation for enjoying lavish perks and high salaries and the idea of cutting the number of MPs and senators in the lower and upper houses of parliament has been mooted for years.
Italians were asked to vote on the measure in a referendum which was proposed by the Five Star Movement, which is in coalition with the centre-Left Democratic Party.
Preliminary results showed that 68 per cent of Italians who went to the polls voted for the cut in numbers. The number of MPs will be reduced from 630 to 400 while the number of senators will be slashed from 315 to 200.
Proponents of the reform argued that it would trim Italy’s bloated bureaucracy, save money and stream-lining the framing of laws.
Opponents said the savings would be modest as a proportion of the national budget and that the reform will reduce representation, with Italy’s 60 million people served by fewer parliamentarians.
Elections were also held in seven of Italy’s 20 regions, from Valle d’Aosta on the French border to Puglia in the far south.
The key battleground was Tuscany, a long-time stronghold of the centre-Left which Matteo Salvini’s hard Right League party hoped to win.
Exit polls last night indicated, however, that the region would remain in the hands of the centre-Left.
The centre-Right was ahead in the regions of Veneto, Marche and Liguria, while the centre-Left looked set to retain Campania.
The contest in Puglia was neck and neck.