NEWS » Former Parliamentarians face cuts in pensions

Former Parliamentarians face cuts in pensions

The Five Star Movement (M5S), now ruling the Italian government in a coalition with the northern league, has long called for cutting the pensions of many former parliamentarians. The measure was now approved and is set to go into effect in January next year. The cuts to former MPs' retirement benefits represent a historic victory for the M5S. Indeed, the party was born almost 10 years ago backing protests against the privileges of the so-called political “castes”.

According to the new rule, the pensions of 1,240 former parliamentarians must be recalculated using the contributory method instead of the remunerative one. The lower house speaker Roberto Fico, from 5-Star, estimates it will save the state some 40 million euros per year. Lawmakers’ pensions are governed by parliament’s own internal rules, so the change could be made by a simple directive without the need for a new law.

Under the previous system, all former lawmakers were guaranteed a life-long pension known as a “vitalizio”, however long their term had been, even just one day would have been enough to be entitled for pension and there wasn’t a retirement age. 

This change was awaited with great expectation because, as Reuters reported, referring to a study by Rome-based think-tank Vision, the total cost of running Italy’s 630 seat Chamber of Deputies is almost the same as the costs of the equivalent chambers of Britain, Germany, France and Spain put together.

Five Star leader, Luigi Di Maio, estimated the change would save €200 million per legislature. More than 1,300 ex-deputies will be affected by the change.  Estimates suggested that some of those affected might see a reduction ranging from 20 to 50%. The reform has been considered by some as mere propaganda and anti-constitutional. It’s still difficult to know the real impact of the measure but it was welcomed by many as an important step towards equality. 

The issue was especially felt by ordinary Italians who have seen their own pensions reformed over recent years, including a raised retirement age. An earlier set of cuts to ex-parliamentarian’s pensions was introduced by the Mario Monti government in 2011, but this was not retroactive whereas the current change will affect all those who served before 2012.

M5S is also intending to cut the number of lawmakers in Italy, which currently has 321 senators and 630 deputies, to reduce this number to just 600 in total.

Giulia Lombardo

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