EDITORIAL - Prof. Stelio Mangiameli - Director of the ISSiRFA - Italy bogged down by three paradoxes.
The problems that Italy must solve in the short term involve three paradoxes: parliamentary, governmental and political.
1. Our current Parliament will last until it completes its term; or at least this is what we hope considering the problems that await a solution. However, everyone knows that it is a deligitimated Parliament given Ruling no 1 2014 of the Constitutional Court that declared the electoral law to be unconstitutional and hence illegitimate.
Caution would have it that once the electoral law was set right, elections would take place. Instead, under the thrust of the Renzi cabinet, a constitutional reform was drawn up that was rejected by the people in the referendum of 4 December, and then an electoral law was approved that was worse than the previous one and it too was rejected by the Constitutional Court. Reasserting the principles recalled in the previous ruling this last electoral law was declared to be unconstititional by Ruling no 35 of 2017.
At present the Country has two different electoral laws, one for the Chamber of deputies and one for the Senate of the Republic. The Constitutional Court and the President of the Republic have rightly expressed the hope that Parliament will redress this situation with a legislative intervention that will enable the Country to vote with two more uniform electoral laws and without the danger of wasting the next parliament.
And here is the first paradox: the citizens and the voters have to trust this crippled and disastrous Parliament to set the situation right and hope it will last until the end of its term so as to reach a workable agreement on the new electoral law.
2. During this Parliament there have been three cabinets: Letta, Renzi and now Gentiloni, with whom we hope to reach the end of term. These three governments have in common the fact that they are all post-economic crisis governments (the cabinets of the crisis were the Berlusconi and the Monti cabinets). However, these cabinets are incapable of leading the Country out of the swamps into which it was dumped by the crisis. We are nowhere near finding solutions to the emergency situation we are still in, nor is economic recovery anywhere on the horizon. And this is the second paradox: it is everyone's hope that Parliament will not withdraw its confidence in the Government. To the contrary, everyone hopes that this government will take us through to the approval of the next Budget Law, that could ensure a little more tax fairness and social justice.
3. And finally, the Italian political system is launching signals that are not very reassuring: the participation curve that, with the referendum, had risen to almost 70 per cent, has again dropped to below 50 percent because of what politics has to offer. All the larger parties are incapable of finding common ground for starting to deal with the Country's problems and they appear to be ever more fragmented; and they have even thinned out.
Hardly any of the parties have true relationships with their activists nor do they know who their voters are. There is little in terms of programmatic platforms, and actually there seems to be little else besides slogans. There is constantly a tension towards touching up their political image rather than working on a political program; what emerges is a plebiscitary political expression rather than the effort to secure legitimation for the representatives.
In the search for a new political legitimation, it would be necessary to thoroughly rethink Italian regionalism. In particular the cooperation system between centre and periphery should be reformed and the Bicameral Committee for Regional Affairs should be integrated as provided for by Article 11 of Constitutional Law 3/2001. Above all the local bodies should be acknowledged financial autonomy and the functions performed should match the resources available.