Commentary. Smaller forces should unilaterally renounce putting forward their own candidates in the uninominal constituencies and ask to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, which represents the only party that can compete for victory in the majority districts.

A radical proposal to save the Italian Constitution

The future of the Italian Constitution depends on the results of the vote in the majoritarian constituencies. Indeed, no matter how successful the center-right coalition may be in the proportional system, that’s not enough for it to achieve the absolute majority needed to amend the constitutional text. Only by winning most of the seats allocated by direct vote would the coalition get far beyond that threshold, its goal being two-thirds of the members of the representative bodies. That outcome must be averted.

If they were to achieve this goal, it would allow the Meloni-Salvini-Berlusconi trio to change the Constitution at will, without even the risk of being denied by a referendum organized by the opposition against the move. We would thus place the future of our fundamental rights and the fate of parliamentary democracy in their hands.

Such a nightmare scenario has a good chance of coming true for a reason understandable to everyone: in each majoritarian constituency, there will be a single center-right candidate (chosen on the basis of a prior political agreement, representing that entire part of the political spectrum) and a plethora of other feuding candidates, each linked to the individual political forces taking part in the elections.

In the absence of an agreement, even the smallest grouping will have to present its own lists in the proportional system in the hope of gaining some representation, and also token candidates in the majoritarian system, knowing full well that they have no chance of gaining more votes than the coalitions or major parties. Given the failure of the “wide field” and the mutual vetoes among political forces, the prospect is that of a pointless contest, all playing out in favor of the center-right.

In order to avoid this catastrophe, Antonio Floridia, writing in il manifesto, proposed a “technical” agreement between all the forces opposed to the center-right coalition. Since the issue is evidently of decisive importance, I’ll try to suggest a “political” way to achieve this goal (i.e. avoiding handing over the future of our Constitution to the aforementioned trio).

The smaller forces, which have no chance of winning a majority seat, should unilaterally renounce putting forward their own candidates in the uninominal constituencies, and ask, without any political quid pro quo (but subject to one condition which we’ll talk about below), to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, which in the given situation represents the only party at the national level that can compete for victory in the majority districts. The autonomy of each party would be preserved, and confusing political coalitions held together only for reasons of electoral convenience would be avoided.

There would be various positives – not only for the Democratic Party, which would find itself the sole competitor for as much as a third of the seats, but, on closer view, also for the other minor forces, which would get rid of the often decisive and (for them) very disadvantageous argument of the “useful vote.” At least for the proportional seats, the vote in favor of a list presented by minority forces will not favor the center-right in the distribution of the linked majority seats.

This affiliation system could bring two other positive side effects. First, it would allow a voter who did not feel represented by any political force but only opposed to the center-right to express their vote only for the candidate for the uninominal constituency. In that case, according to the provisions of the law currently in force, their vote, in addition to supporting the uninominal candidate, would also be redistributed proportionally among the affiliated lists. This would be an indirect benefit to all.

The second possible indirect effect is entirely hypothetical, but cannot be ruled out. The greatest beneficiary of this system would certainly be the relative majority party, which would find itself de facto, without any political-programmatic constraints, indirectly benefiting from the votes of the different political forces taking part in the proportional system for the purpose of the majoritarian contest.

There would be no obligation, but it would be politically wise and also electorally expedient to choose candidates who are representatives of civil society for these constituencies, reserving the most politically aligned candidates for the competition for the proportional vote. The quality of representation could benefit.

Since the fundamental political reason for such a contrivance (because that’s what it is, we must admit) would be to secure the Constitution, a single inviolable clause should be agreed by all the contracting parties, and in particular the PD, which would be the beneficiary for the majority system – that of committing to the defense and revival of Constitutional principles. Constitutional implementation should be the minimum common program of all the forces of a new and diverse pro-Constitution arc.

It would be the best possible outcome under the given conditions. The stakes are so high that I think it’s worth giving up the running of token candidates, while preserving the different identities of each party. In the difficult situation in which we find ourselves, with an electoral law that there wasn’t the will to change and that appears tailor-made to let the center-right win, it will take some courage to try to avoid the worst outcome. It will also take some generosity on the part of those who do not have the political strength (to win majority districts), but have an awareness of the value of defending the Constitution.

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