Not only Brexit: Italians have yet another referendum to be worried about


Let us admit it: Italians, as well as all those people who moved to London and the UK from the continent, are nowadays holding their breath and worryingly waiting to learn about the outcome of the next-coming referendum.

Should Britain decide to leave the EU, what impact and the full extent of consequences European citizens can expect are just unknown. But while, in the long term, economy, savings and overall quality of life might be affected for everyone by such a decision the Britons will made on the 23rd of June, more urgent matters shall be addressed first by EU immigrants: nothing major, hopefully and especially for those who have already settled down under Her Majesty’s protection, as only a few adjustments could be enough. However, technically, they might find themselves in the uncomfortable circumstance of suddenly becoming illegal immigrants in need of regularising their status.

But adaptability is a real Italian specialty, together with optimism.

So, in the name of both and in order to exorcise fears, Italians might decide to focus on another referendum, which could affect their interests as well as those of their families down there.

In autumn, Italians will be asked to confirm or reject a reform of Italy’s constitutional law, proposed by the current government, supposedly aimed at increasing governability, reducing costs of politics and improving institutional relationships between the central state and regions, and overall moving towards a leaner political system.

At the moment, Italian parliament is grounded on a perfect bicameral system: two independent bodies, both the result of general elections, need to agree in order to have laws approved. Governability in Italy has never been high in the list of priorities, for a number of reasons, including last but not least the memory of a previous authoritarian regime, by which laws were quickly approved, but not necessarily to benefit all people.

So, since 1946, when the first democratic parliament was elected, different political parties had to create coalitions in order to generate and support a government (just as a curiosity: this happened even in 1948, when Democrazia Cristiana had a numeric majority upon which they could generate a mono-colour government. De Gasperi still decided to include a number of allies).

Along the years, fragmentation between and within the same parties, made of governability more and more an issue. And increasingly Italians started developing a fascination for the mythical ‘strong man’, who could govern Italy notwithstanding the ambushes from both the allies and opposition.

Berlusconi and Renzi, from opposite sides, are thought to be embodying such a myth, and it is unclear how much of their freedom and rights Italians are ready to sacrifice to the cause of governability. The devil is in the detail, they say: on one side, the reform is accused of hiding nasty gifts to corrupted politicians, and to diminish democratic control over the government; the other side is accused of having populism and rhetoric leading their dysfunctional agendas.

Whatever the outcome, Italians will likely decide to adapt themselves the same way they have done in the last two thousand years: governments and tyrants, prosperity and scarcity, your own breed or the foreigners commanding you. Francia o Spagna, purchè se magna (France or Spain [are the same], as far as we can still eat): or perhaps this time will they have a different reaction?



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