(Bloomberg) -- Giorgia Meloni linked Italy’s mammoth debt to its history of unstable governments, a preview of how she will argue in a future referendum for premiers such as herself to get a stronger mandate. 

At a conference in the northern city of Trento, the prime minister acknowledged the precarious nature of the public finances and blamed the situation on a constant need to clinch trade-offs between coalition parties.

“Our public debt is sky-high, and investments are at zero,” Meloni said on Friday. “When you have, on average, a political horizon of about a year and a half, you can’t start a strategy, you can’t invest. What you can do is spend — spend to attain immediate consensus.”

Meloni, in campaign mode before European Parliament elections next month, has been attempting to sell plans for political reform that would enact the consequential change of making Italians vote for the premier directly.

The idea is to make the prime minister stronger overall and reduce what she sees as Italy’s chronic political instability. The country’s governments rarely last for a full term, and it has already had 14 administrations in this current century.

Because that measure would require nearly unattainable support from lawmakers to change Italy’s post-Fascist constitution, the proposal will most likely need to be put to the people through a referendum. Critics argue that it would dangerously shift checks and balances in favor of the executive branch.

“If a government had five years to work, then it would have the ability to enact its strategy,” Meloni said.

Her remarks implicitly acknowledge just how Italy’s public finances are worsening after the government recently revealed a new trajectory of rising borrowings. It will have Europe’s third-biggest debt pile in just three years, according to Scope Ratings. 

That’s partly because of the legacy of a pandemic-era tax incentive known as superbonus that is threatening to widen Italy’s deficits for years to come. Meloni said that she and her cabinet need to “stop the hemorrhage” caused by that measure. 

The country’s accounts “can’t take it,” she said. “It’s a hemorrhage that hasn’t yielded what it promised.”

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