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Focus on Italy. The Constitutional Reform

Anno XXXII, n. 141, settembre-ottobre 1997
Centro Einaudi


Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
After ten years of aborted attempts, in the last few months the Italian Parliament has, for the first time since the war, buckled down to the task of discussing a bill for the reform of the second section of the country’s Constitution, the part devoted to its political system (the same Parliament having voted to exclude the first part on citizens’ rights and duties from its review). The parliamentary debate centres round the bill drawn up by a special Bicameral Commission, which began work on the task a year ago. Once passed by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the final document will go to a national referendum. The essays we publish analyse the Bicameral Commission’s document and suggest some of the amendments Parliament might make to it. The contributions by Giorgio Brosio (Meagre Decentralisation, No Federalism), Giuseppe de Vergottini (Federalism and Political Culture) and Michele Salvati (How Many Reforms?) are chiefly concerned with the question of form of government. They criticise the lack of courage of the choices made to date and point out how regional authorities are not ensured effective financial and spending autonomy. Their recommendation is that the Senate be transformed into a "Chamber of autonomies". Giuseppe Vegas (The Unmentionable Market) discusses the different outlines of the economic Constitution with reference to the contents of the Community treaties signed by Italy. Giuliano Urbani (The Political System) and Valerio Zanone (The Second Constitutional Covenant) analyse the Bicameral Commission’s choices from the point of view of the Italian political system. Urbani shows how the present party system is loathe to become effectively bipolar, while Zanone stresses that the reform process now in progress responds, first and foremost, to the need for mutual legitimisation of the former Fascist and Communist parties. Giorgio Rebuffa (Weak Reform and Referendum Risk) warns that the hesitation and ambiguity of the proposed reform – vis-à-vis form of government and guarantee institutions, in particular – might cause it to be rejected in the scheduled referendum, especially in the northern Italian regions. Franco Pizzetti (The Question of Method), finally, outlines the approach which the Commission has followed to date, showing how it has prevented opinion and specialists alike from entering into contact with the Commission; which is why citizens perceive the entire reform process as being remote and incomprehensible.