Divided at the local level, the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia found common ground in the Chamber in their attempt to stop citizenship reform and the cannabis bill. The two measures arrived on the floor on Thursday, after the green light in the committees, and had the effect of immediately igniting the clash. To the point that Matteo Salvini went so far as to speak of a “vulgar provocation that puts the majority at risk,” while Giorgia Meloni called for both bills to be removed from the work calendar.
Those from the Lega were the most frantic. As the chamber got ready to begin debate on the Magi bill on Thursday afternoon, which legalizes the home cultivation of four cannabis plants for personal use, an extraordinary meeting of Lega deputies was called, attended by Salvini himself. In the meeting, the climate was described as “very tense,” and “furious” parliamentarians spoke of “unacceptable forcing” by the PD and M5S on the ius scholae and cannabis reforms. There was also no shortage of those who, on the subject of citizenship reform, claimed that “half of the crimes committed by minors are to be blamed on immigrants.”
“We cannot go on like this,” group leader Riccardo Molinari vented to reporters. “It would be difficult for us to explain to citizens that we are dealing with this instead of the fuel price increases.”
Forza Italia deputies were also set to meet on Thursday afternoon. The position of Berlusconi’s party was more ambiguous, however. In the Constitutional Affairs Committee, the two FI deputies present cast opposite votes: while Renata Polverini has always supported the basic text put together by Chairman Giuseppe Brescia, on Tuesday evening at the final vote her colleague Annamaria Calabria voted against. A division that runs through FI and that was expected to become more evident from Thursday, with the start of the debate on the floor.
Far from revolutionary, the ius scholae citizenship reform makes it possible for the more than 800,000 children born in Italy to foreign parents or who arrived in the country before they turned 12 to obtain Italian citizenship once they have completed a five-year school cycle “with positive result,” or at the end of a professional course (a decree of the Ministry of Labor will set the necessary criteria). There is also the possibility for only one of the parents to apply for citizenship for the minor child, and no longer both parents as previously required. The bill also removes the requirement of “uninterrupted” residence in Italy.
These new norms could easily be described as common sense, but they are seen as an attack by the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia and are likely to open a faultline in Forza Italia, with FI’s Antonio Tajani trying to mediate: “We are in favor of the principle of ius scholae, but we ask that there be clear rules for granting Italian citizenship to those who are not Italian,” the party coordinator explains. “So, five years of schooling plus three, with certification, or a certified first-level professional qualification.” It is easy to foresee an avalanche of amendments from the center-right to block or at least modify the text that has arrived in the Chamber.
On paper, the numbers are there to pass the ius scholae in this form, at least. Those in favor of the law are PD, LeU, M5S, Italia Viva, Autonomie, with positive signals also from Italia al Centro headed by Liguria governor Giovanni Toti. There shouldn’t be any surprises from the 51 deputies of Foreign Minister Di Maio’s Insieme Per Il Futuro, although the group has said that they still have to discuss it. Nonetheless, those from Di Maio’s party in the Constitutional Affairs Committee spoke in favor of the bill.
Salvini, on the other hand, went on the attack once more on Wednesday evening: “It seems clear to me that the left wants to blow up the government.” The Lega leader was answered by the PD group leader in the Chamber, Simona Malpezzi: “A great many young people are waiting for a civilized law that would recognize their right to citizenship. Parliament must meet a demand that is widely spread throughout society, which, once again, is ahead of the legislature.” The position of the law’s rapporteur, Giuseppe Brescia (M5S), is identical: “It seems to me that the law does not take anything away from anyone; on the contrary, it seems to me that it adds something, something important to our community.”