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Monday, 22 May, 2000, 03:08 GMT 04:08 UK
Low turnout foils Italian referendum

Partial results from a series of referendums in Italy suggest efforts to reform the country's electoral system have again failed because of a low turnout.

With most of the votes counted, the Interior Ministry says around a third of the voters had gone to the polls; more than half of the electorate should have taken part for the result to be valid.

The key proposal concerned the abolition of proportional representation in general elections.

Supporters of the change said it would bring more stability to Italy's political system.

But many smaller parties feared they could disappear under a new system, and asked people to boycott the vote. Currently a quarter of the members of parliament are chosen proportionally, and the remainder by first-past-the-post.

A similar vote last year was declared invalid because of a low turnout.

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