Italy populists protest passage of revised election rules

5-Star Movement lawmaker Luigi Di Maio listens as lawmaker Alessandro Di Battista, left, talks during a movement's protest outside the lower chamber of Parliament moments after a new election law was approved, in Rome, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. The election law, which calls for a combination of seats assigned by a majority system based on colleges and proportional voting, is bitterly opposed by the anti-establishment Movement, Italy's largest opposition party in Parliament, because the 5-Stars have ruled out forming alliances and could be penalized by the new system. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
5-Star Movement's Alessandro Di Battista speaks outside the lower chamber of Parliament moments after a new election law was approved, in Rome, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. The election law, which calls for a combination of seats assigned by a majority system based on colleges and proportional voting, is bitterly opposed by the anti-establishment Movement, Italy's largest opposition party in Parliament, because the 5-Stars have ruled out forming alliances and could be penalized by the new system. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME — Backers of Italy's populist 5-Star Movement are protesting the initial passage of revised election rules they contend are designed to foil their bid to gain national power for the first time.

The Chamber of Deputies — the lower chamber of the Italian Parliament — approved the rules late Thursday despite defections by some lawmakers from parties that are officially backing the changes.

Supporters include the main governing Democratic Party, loyalists of center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, and the Northern League, a right-wing party gaining ground in opinion polls.

The Senate now takes up the bill.

The 5-Star Movement, Parliament's largest opposition party, opposes the changes, which reward parties in election coalitions.

The Movement refuses to participate in coalitions and hopes to win Italy's premiership in elections due by early 2018.

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