The BBC says it again:
Mr Berlusconi’s government had pushed through an electoral reform last year which brought back full proportional representation.
Let’s get this straight. When an electoral system allows a bloc of parties to join together and take a guaranteed minimum of 55% of the seats–even if the alliance has won less than a majority of the votes–it is not proportional representation!
It is not that pre-election coalitions do not occur in clearly PR systems. They do. (Think of the UIA and Kurdish fronts in Iraq, each of which contains several component parties; there are various examples in Israel and other pure PR systems.) And it is not that majorities are never manufactured in PR systems. It does not happen often, but it happens in some cases, and the leading bloc in this case had very close to 50% of the votes anyway.
But the Italian system, v. 2006, provides very powerful incentives for large pre-election coalitions, because–especially in the lower house, where the bonus is calculated nationwide–it gives a very high premium for having the plurality of votes.
It is not a plurality system by any conventional definition. But it is just as clearly not PR.
More on Italy and PR here.