In this, the sixtieth year since the approval of the republican constitution of Italy, there are just as many celebrative events as there are critical reflections. This paper wishes to be a tool for reflection and a critical assesment of the achievements thus far reached. There are no questions, in fact, that the constitution has proven to be a valid instrument to introduce and accompany democracy at all levels of the territorial structure. However, the turbolent political and institutional moment which Italy has been undergoing since 1994 has brought to the attention of all, the yet partially fulfilled constitution of 1948, and has generated a lively debate, albeit not always scholarly, on reforms and on the provisions for constitutional revisions. It is an understatement to affirm that the Italian parliamentary system has developed along pathological lines attributing too much power to political parties which, in order to maintain their control, concentrated all decision making to the highest levels slowly transforming Parliament into a passive legislator. Executive efficiency and a more active role for Parliament were two rather conflicting objectives of the reformers. The procedures to accomplish such goals could most likely vary due to reforms which each carried. Furthermore, the unfulfilled articles on decentralization and the growing economic division between the northern and the southern parts of the country, coupled with the pressure brought upon the nation by the Maastricht Agreements generated the opinion that high levels of decentralization could be the panacea for all the misworkings of the system. It seemed all too natural then, that the XIIIth, XIVth and XVth legislaturs (1996-2008) were to satisfy all or in part the desires of the people. Whether the national leaders would opt for the semi-presidential, the presidential or the chancellorship model in order to reach the efficiency goal; whether they would decide to implement the constitution to obtain decentralization, or whether they would opt for a clearly federal solution was to determine whether the changes might be considered revisions or reforms and which procedures were to be followed. Two levels of confrontation could be found therefore in Italy. The first one, more politically oriented, was focused on increased efficiency of the governmental system; the second one, more legally oriented, focused on the procedures to be followed in order to obtain the desired reforms. That which ties these two levels with a common bond is the interpretation of article 138 of the 1948 constitution, and that is, whether the desired changes could be considered reforms or should be considered revisions. The answer to this fundamental question would determine, in turn, whether Parliament could a) promote the modifications through the enactment of an ordinary law (reform); or b) it should follow the aggravated amending process (revisions according to article 138); or c) should the election of a Constituent Assembly be called . Time and again during the last thirthy years the various political forces have been debating on the need for reforms, postponing however, the actual implementation of them until the ninties of the last century, when, more by the “force” of direct democracy (referenda) then by their political foresight, changes, at times radical, have begun to occur. The first one of these was the delegation of more powers, especially in the realm of fiscal autonomy, to the smallest of the administrative territorial subdivisions of Italy, the towns. With it, or as a consequence of it, came a new electoral law for mayors and town councilmen.Then the popular referendum of 1993 with which Parliamentarians received the moral mandate to rewrite the national election law from proportional to majoritarian drastically reducing the role and the power which political parties had been enjoying since the 1946 Constituent Assembly. From these initial successes derived the complete turnover in both Houses of Parliament. Infact most of the 945 elected legislators who took office in 1994 were freshmen who were expected to begin to look more seriously to the necessity of implementing sections of the fundamental law which had been ignored and / or only partially and pathologically executed to revise entire segments of it in order to improve its standing with the people. To this day, only the electoral law and the major innovations of the regional powers remain the contributions of the lawmakers to solving, or better, attempting to solve the problems of the nation. The results of the general election in 1994 succeeded in forcing on the political agenda the constitutional debate yet Parliament opted for piecemeal changes rather than for a structural revision of the whole text. Twenty years later, in order to stop the never ending transition the newly elected Parliament must take into consideration modifying its present system of government; altering the original system of guarantees; either completing or reversing both the electoral and regional reforms. The aim of this paper is to look at the various proposals which have been advocated and never accomplished confronting them with the original articles 5, 138 and 139 of the constitution and to attempt to provide a viable “solution model” for Italy. A summary analysis of the present system has, thus, been considered helpful to focusing on the future steps.

Has the never-ending Italian transition come to a close or is there a need for more Institutional Reforms?

DE FRANCISCIS, MARIA ELISABETTA
2008

Abstract

In this, the sixtieth year since the approval of the republican constitution of Italy, there are just as many celebrative events as there are critical reflections. This paper wishes to be a tool for reflection and a critical assesment of the achievements thus far reached. There are no questions, in fact, that the constitution has proven to be a valid instrument to introduce and accompany democracy at all levels of the territorial structure. However, the turbolent political and institutional moment which Italy has been undergoing since 1994 has brought to the attention of all, the yet partially fulfilled constitution of 1948, and has generated a lively debate, albeit not always scholarly, on reforms and on the provisions for constitutional revisions. It is an understatement to affirm that the Italian parliamentary system has developed along pathological lines attributing too much power to political parties which, in order to maintain their control, concentrated all decision making to the highest levels slowly transforming Parliament into a passive legislator. Executive efficiency and a more active role for Parliament were two rather conflicting objectives of the reformers. The procedures to accomplish such goals could most likely vary due to reforms which each carried. Furthermore, the unfulfilled articles on decentralization and the growing economic division between the northern and the southern parts of the country, coupled with the pressure brought upon the nation by the Maastricht Agreements generated the opinion that high levels of decentralization could be the panacea for all the misworkings of the system. It seemed all too natural then, that the XIIIth, XIVth and XVth legislaturs (1996-2008) were to satisfy all or in part the desires of the people. Whether the national leaders would opt for the semi-presidential, the presidential or the chancellorship model in order to reach the efficiency goal; whether they would decide to implement the constitution to obtain decentralization, or whether they would opt for a clearly federal solution was to determine whether the changes might be considered revisions or reforms and which procedures were to be followed. Two levels of confrontation could be found therefore in Italy. The first one, more politically oriented, was focused on increased efficiency of the governmental system; the second one, more legally oriented, focused on the procedures to be followed in order to obtain the desired reforms. That which ties these two levels with a common bond is the interpretation of article 138 of the 1948 constitution, and that is, whether the desired changes could be considered reforms or should be considered revisions. The answer to this fundamental question would determine, in turn, whether Parliament could a) promote the modifications through the enactment of an ordinary law (reform); or b) it should follow the aggravated amending process (revisions according to article 138); or c) should the election of a Constituent Assembly be called . Time and again during the last thirthy years the various political forces have been debating on the need for reforms, postponing however, the actual implementation of them until the ninties of the last century, when, more by the “force” of direct democracy (referenda) then by their political foresight, changes, at times radical, have begun to occur. The first one of these was the delegation of more powers, especially in the realm of fiscal autonomy, to the smallest of the administrative territorial subdivisions of Italy, the towns. With it, or as a consequence of it, came a new electoral law for mayors and town councilmen.Then the popular referendum of 1993 with which Parliamentarians received the moral mandate to rewrite the national election law from proportional to majoritarian drastically reducing the role and the power which political parties had been enjoying since the 1946 Constituent Assembly. From these initial successes derived the complete turnover in both Houses of Parliament. Infact most of the 945 elected legislators who took office in 1994 were freshmen who were expected to begin to look more seriously to the necessity of implementing sections of the fundamental law which had been ignored and / or only partially and pathologically executed to revise entire segments of it in order to improve its standing with the people. To this day, only the electoral law and the major innovations of the regional powers remain the contributions of the lawmakers to solving, or better, attempting to solve the problems of the nation. The results of the general election in 1994 succeeded in forcing on the political agenda the constitutional debate yet Parliament opted for piecemeal changes rather than for a structural revision of the whole text. Twenty years later, in order to stop the never ending transition the newly elected Parliament must take into consideration modifying its present system of government; altering the original system of guarantees; either completing or reversing both the electoral and regional reforms. The aim of this paper is to look at the various proposals which have been advocated and never accomplished confronting them with the original articles 5, 138 and 139 of the constitution and to attempt to provide a viable “solution model” for Italy. A summary analysis of the present system has, thus, been considered helpful to focusing on the future steps.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/385066
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