Italy head of state says early elections unlikely: report

Italian President Sergio Mattarella visits China

ROME (Reuters) – Italian President Sergio Mattarella said on Friday that early national elections this year were unlikely.

He told Bloomberg Television during a visit to Toronto that he believed the current legislature, which is due to end next February, will run its course and that elections would be held before the start of spring.

There has been frequent speculation that they could be held in the autumn of this year.

Mattarella, the only figure with the power to dissolve parliament, has said frequently in the past that elections should only be held after parliament has passed a new electoral law to harmonize voting systems for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

At present, there is a system based on proportional representation for both houses of parliament, but in the Chamber there is a lower threshold of votes needed to elect representatives, and a winner’s bonus of seats for any party that gets 40 percent of the vote.

After months of bickering, the parties have still not reached a deal over a new system and opinion polls suggest that no party or coalition would win a majority if a vote were held under current rules.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Ralph Boulton)