Italy...and math?November 8, 2011 11:15 AM   Subscribe

What just happened in Italy's Parliament? How do you win a vote but not get a majority?

According to this, Berlusconi "won a budget vote, but received the votes of less than half of MPs."

The budget passed with 308 votes even though you need 316 votes for a majority. How do you pass a bill when less than 50% of the MP's voted for it? The article said that 320 MP's didn't vote. Does that mean you only need a majority of the votes out of the MP's who voted?
posted by Geppp to Law & Government (5 answers total)

Best answer: You need a plurality, not necessarily a majority.

That's true in the US legislative chambers, too. As long as you have a quorum, then a plurality is enough to pass bills.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:18 AM on November 8, 2011

Best answer: He needed a plurality, but he expected a majority. A majority (>316) would have meant that he could have ostensibly kept on governing unimpeded. 11 members of his own party abstained (along with the expected abstentions from the opposition) and that's a very clear message that he's lost his grip on the Parliament. HOORAY!!!!!!
posted by lydhre at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2011

Best answer: A majority of those present and voting (i.e. a plurality) is pretty standard for parliamentary systems unless special rules apply.

The opposition abstained on this strategically, in order to place the focus on Berlusconi's coalition. I'm not certain on this, but reports suggested that an outright defeat on that bill had the potential to trigger elections, which wouldn't be the desired outcome for those in the ruling coalition who want to stay in power but get rid of Berlusconi.
posted by holgate at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ahh, well that cleared it up for me. Thanks everyone!
posted by Geppp at 12:05 PM on November 8, 2011

For whatever it's worth, he says he's going to resign. (Even though this wasn't formally a vote-of-no-confidence.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:00 PM on November 8, 2011

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