Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Italian MPs withhold fingerprints

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, file picture
Fingerprinting is meant to make voting more transparent

About a third of Italian MPs are refusing to take part in a new electronic fingerprint voting system.

They are now being offered coffee breaks to try to persuade them to use the system, which is due to be introduced next week.

The scheme is meant to stop MPs voting for absent colleagues by reaching over and pressing their voting buttons.

But some MPs are refusing to be fingerprinted, saying it will mean spending too much time in the chamber.

The aim is to make sure the casting of votes is more transparent.

But about a third of the deputies in the 630-member lower house are objecting.

Some argue it is an invasion of privacy; others may be more shy because the police already have their prints, having been convicted of crimes ranging from corruption to biting a policeman's ankle.

Now the speaker of the chamber, Gianfranco Fini, is offering the members an hour-long coffee break each day, with two hours on a Wednesday, to make up for the increased time MPs would have to spend in parliament voting for themselves.

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