Italy’s Prime Minister tells bishops to back off over constitutional reform

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After the leader of the Italian bishops recently appeared to throw cold water on a key constitutional reform backed by Italy’s conservative government, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni essentially told the bishops to back off, reminding them that “the Vatican state is not a parliamentary republic.” Meloni made the comments in a May 30 interview on Italian television, in response to May 23 comments from Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, president of the powerful Italian bishops’ conference CEI and a key ally of Pope Francis. During a news conference amid a plenary assembly of the Italian bishops, Zuppi was asked about their reaction to the so-called Premierato, a proposal to amend the Italian constitution to provide for the direct election of the country’s prime minister to a five-year term. At present, Italian prime ministers are chosen by parliament, and thus rise and fall with the fate of whatever majority is in power. Many observers blame that system for chronic instability in Italian politics, with a staggering total of 70 different governments since Italy became a democracy after World War II, an average of one every 1.1 years.

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