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Renzi and the Worst Reform

On the evening of Oct. 13, the Italian Senate passed a controversial amendment to the nation’s constitution that would weaken Parliament’s upper house by scrapping the direct election of senators and reducing their number by two-thirds.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the Senate reform will lead to a faster, more effective government, resolving a growing problem of shifting allegiances in Parliament. But critics and the opposition say the reforms centralize power and upend checks and balances instituted after the fall of dictatorship in World War II. A series of legislative hurdles remain for the bill to become law.

Il Manifesto published an editorial by six prominent Italian legal scholars on the front page of Tuesday’s newspaper, who argue the bill “radically distorts” the 1948 vision for the Italian Republic.

The proposed Constitutional amendment dissolves the identity of the Republic that was born of the Italian Resistance.
It is unacceptable both because of the method and the substance; even more so in relation to the electoral law already approved by the Parliament.

Because of the method: The Reform is intended to keep alive a government and a majority that have lacked substantial legitimacy since the Constitutional Court declared the former electoral law unconstitutional. Forcing multiple procedures and regulations into practice has resulted in irreconcilable rifts between the parties in Parliament, heading for the final vote with a temporary and hastily assembled majority — a majority that would have been impossible to obtain without the use of the illegal electoral law.

Because of the substance: The cancellation of the direct election of senators by the people, their drastic reduction (while the number of the Representatives in the House does not change) and composing the Senate of politicians with only a local mandate (and taken from a political class which experience shows is low quality) will cause irreparable damage to the principles of political representation and institutional checks and balances.

This cannot be justified as cost-cutting, which could be better accomplished by other means. Nor can it be justified by the stated intent to build a more efficient Republic. That goal is contradicted by its complex and jumbled legislative procedures and by a state-region relationship that in small ways achieves rationalization and simplification, but more likely will lead to neo-centralism.

The real aim of this reform is to swing the institutional axis in favor of the government.

The evidence for this is the introduction into the Constitution of government dominance over parliamentary work. But it is especially evident in the synergy with the new electoral law (informally called “Italicum”), which radically weakens the House in addition to reducing the number of representatives in the Senate.
Italicum provides for a second ballot, a majority bonus to the first list or party, high access thresholds and a blocked list of nominees — delivering the lower chamber into the hands of the winning party’s leader, even if only by a few votes.

The negative effects will spread throughout the system of checks and balances, including in elections for head of state, of the members of the Constitutional Court and of the Supreme Court of the Judiciary.

The rigidity of the Constitution is also weakened: Although constitutional amendments will still require bicameral approval, the required votes are virtually guaranteed to the government in the House, while the Senate comprises members without any substantial legitimacy to participate in the delicate operation of changing the fundamental law.

When the anti-fascist Constituent Assembly met to form the Italian Constitution, they found common ground in the essential goals of equality and social justice, the protection of freedom and rights. On this political project was built an institutional architecture based on democratic participation, political representation and the balance of power.

The Renzi-Boschi Bill now radically distorts the institutional system of the 1948 Constitution, and attempts to address a difficult time of economic crisis by concentrating the power of the government, reducing democratic participation and gagging dissent.

The government’s argument that says this proposal applies only to organizational profiles is unacceptable. The impact on popular sovereignty and representation, on democratic participation and the right to vote is unquestionable.

More generally, the institutional framework is crucial for the implementation of the rights and freedoms contained in the first part of the Constitution, as was evidenced by the disastrous reform of Article 81 of the Constitution.

We must therefore fight against this amendment to the Constitution. We must prevent a majority vote when it comes up for the second consideration and then wage a referendum battle like the one in 2006, which abrogated, by a vote of the Italian people, the reform — equally shocking — approved by the center-right coalition under Silvio Berlusconi.

Gaetano Azzariti, Lorenza Carlassare, Gianni Ferrara, Alessandro Pace, Stefano Rodotà, Massimo Villone

In the following days, a lot of law experts and professors wrote to us joining this issue:
Giu­seppe Ugo Resci­gno, Mauro Volpi, Dome­nico Gallo, Ales­san­dra Algo­stino, Gastone Cot­tino, Ales­san­dro Torre, Pasquale Bene­duce, Fran­ce­sco Fer­rante, Vale­ria Mar­cenò, Costanza Mar­giotta, Giu­lio Itz­co­vich, Fabio Longo, Marco Fio­ra­vanti, Marco Giam­pie­retti, Ida Domi­ni­janni, Laura Ron­chetti, Alfonso Di Gio­vine, Clau­dio De Fio­res, Nicola Vizioli, Fabri­zio Amato, Andrea D’Angeli, Michele Di Bari

And more than 700 readers:
Wal­ter Mara­tona, Ema­nuela Biondi, Ema­nuele Lim­pido, Simo­netta Ven­tu­rini, Dome­nica Cal­da­rola, Pie­tro Scocca, Emi­liano Schem­ber, Giu­seppe Fer­ra­bo­schi, Pasquale Ram­pazzo, Loris Auzzi, Emi­lia Rotella, Roberto Ber­toli, Car­melo Toscano, Mar­ghe­rita D’Amico, Enrico Maria Mas­succi, Roberto Gran­dolfo, Giu­liano Della Foglia, Guido Aiazzi, Maria­te­resa Parisi, Eli­sa­betta de Rino, Mirella Fè, Ales­san­dro Capuzzo, Gio­vanni Di Sta­sio, Ste­fano Ber­toc­chi, Daniela Nur­zia, SImo­netta Asti­giano, Lorenzo Lon­dero, Marco Gio­ve­nale, Mario Man­cini, Giu­seppe Brai, Clau­dia Can­ta­nore, Vin­cenzo Micocci, Angelo Seme­raro, Sere­nella Bor­rata, Anna Lanaro, Piero Che­rici, Paola Laz­zaro, Fede­rico M. Muc­cia­relli, Umberto Fran­chi, Luigi Pavani, Andrea D’Angeli, Alvise Marin, Nicolò Ollino, Lorena Bifera, Sil­vana La Marca, Anto­nino Mor­villo, Giu­seppe Ara­gno, Fran­ce­sco Zac­ca­ria, Gior­gio Bon­santi, Ser­gio De Mar­tino, Cor­rado Mor­gia, Ser­gio Goli­nelli, Fede­rica Tarini, Mario Giam­belli Gal­lotti, Cri­stina Miglio­rini, Roberto Blanco, Pasquale Vilardo, Mario Men­ghini, Marina Buono, Dome­nico Espo­sito, Anto­nio J. Manca Gra­zia­dei Gior­gio Mas­sola, Pier­paolo Fer­razza, Mar­cello Rosa, Maria­gra­zia Paro­lin, Alma Pas­sante, Mauro Icardi, Camilla Zanola, Gra­ziano Pin­tori, Sil­vano Labanti, Anna­lisa Cotrozzi, Luigi Meconi, Luca Tor­nadù, Bruna Mari­noni, Rosa­rio Senia, Ales­san­dro Baz­zan, Roberta Radich, Anto­nella Leto, Moreno Bia­gioni, Ema­nuele Chio­dini, Gior­gio Lun­ghini, Pie­tro Ger­va­sio, Ugo Mene­satti, Ore­ste Pezzi, Lorenzo Buc­cino Malo, Michele Biondo, Angelo Lon­ghi, Bar­bara Mensi, Man­lio Pado­van, Mat­tia Geno­vesi, Luigi Pan­dolfi, Renato Midoro, Giu­seppe Famà, Sabrina Gian­cola, Gianna Megli, Fabio Finotti, Alberto Pel­le­gri, Vin­cenzo Pao­lillo, Marco Riva­rolo, Enrico Coma­stri, Anto­nella Atzeni, Gerardo D’Ambrosio, Fede­rico Sisti, Ste­fano Buc­cia­relli, Clau­dio Gagliasso, Rosa Maria Sala­dino, Gra­zia Fanelli, Andrea Grasso, Fer­ruc­cio Mar­ti­nelli, Anto­nio Seu, Loretta Colan­toni, Fran­ce­sca Mal­vani, Ales­san­dra Pel­loni, Fanio Gian­netto, Vale­ria Sarli, Ste­fano Brac­cini, Maria Gri­maldi, Isa­bella Tem­pe­relli, Mauro Arletti, Gian­franco Nitti, Beppe Cor­lito, Olim­pia Anto­nelli, Giu­lio Varacca, Roberto Vil­lani, Marco Live­rani, Giu­seppe Natale, Mario Badino, Gian Luigi Ago, Elena Val­do­nio, Marina Tas­sara , Maria­gra­zia Mor­rone, Marco Schia­von­cini, Marina Roma­nini, Fran­ce­sco Cas­sotti, Mauro Maz­zia, Anna Cozza, Ila­rio De Mar­chi, Iolanda Fata, Alberto Dell’Acqua, Alda Gaeta, Dimo Raf­faelli, Giu­seppe Ris­sone, Elisa Stru­mia, Mas­simo Ser­nesi, Michele Mar­giotta, Emi­lia Mar­to­rana, Ros­sella Tor­chia, Edoardo Borzi, Daniele Ste­fani, Sonia Argio­las, Ros­sella Tor­chia, Maria­ro­sa­ria Marino, Luigi Grillo, Sami Nica­stro, Rosanna Conte, Sara Di Nitto, Nicolò Fuc­caro, Loris Luigi Perillo, Marco Pro­cino, Anna Fal­cone, Bruna Piac­cia­luti, Fede­rica Mistu­relli, San­dra Manca, Mat­teo Cana­delli, Mas­si­mi­liano Cap­pello, Sil­via Simon­cini, Luciano Luc­che­rino, Giselda Demaj, Ioic Thi­rion, Gia­como Tini, Raf­faello Cavic­chi, Renato Fava­retto, Pier­paolo Farina, Daniela Ste­fa­nutto, Ales­san­dra Pil­losu, Luca Lam­perti, Rosa Maiello, Carlo Sal­maso, Remo Capone, Cri­stina Fal­zo­gher, Noemi Politi, Roberto Zanardo, Lui­gina Can­ta­cessa, Vale­rio Ghetti, Patri­zia Buffa, Mario Gua­rino, Roberta Radich, Fran­ce­sco Mar­ti­nelli, Davide Cle­menti, Gia­como Signo­rini, Eli­sa­betta Forni, Ivan Galassi, Gabriella Ron­chi, Anto­nio Di Luca, Anto­nietta Espo­sito, Dona­tella Mag­gio, Ema­nuele Negro, Valen­tino Rava­gnani, Teresa Ducci, Eleo­nora De Rossi, Gian­luca Bian­chi, Luca Coz­zo­lino, Wal­ter Haeusl, Paolo Scroccu, Gen­naro Dome­stico, Alberto Ros­sini, Rosa­ma­ria Colo­gnola, Bia­gio Tondo, Fla­vio Mar­co­lini, Anto­nia De Mar­ti­nis, Roberto Turati, Gior­dano Fuma­galli, Davide Cac­chioni, Gian­luca Alfieri, Clau­dio Maracci, Ila­ria Pan­tusa, Michele Iacono, Luigi Ben­nardo, Fran­ce­sco Neroni, Cri­stina Setti, Marina Nota­ran­gelo, Gior­gio Lonardi, Elena Ricci, Giu­seppe Mon­cada, Ste­fa­nia Zilli, Ste­fa­nia De Pace, Luca Ago­sti­nelli, Rosalba Bois, Nella Toscano, Gior­gio Bignami, Daniela Pavesi, Elisa Baioni, Fabri­zio Fri­nolli, Gian­franco Maz­zeo, Ser­gio Caselli, Nica de Maio, Gio­vanna Comite, Laura Palermo, Carlo Maria Cananzi, Fran­ce­sco Mira­belli, Paolo Leone, Paolo Cin­cilla, Patri­zia Petrucci, Roberto Spocci, Ila­ria Ago­stini, Mauro De Cupis, Daniele Ven­ne­tiello, Car­lotta Giu­sti, Marco Petro­celli, Anto­nio Ingroia, Gra­zia Sbrana, Fede­rico Massi, Vito Nicola Volpe, Lorenzo Desi­deri, Rita Biz­zarri, Mau­ri­zio Bal­delli, Ales­san­dra Boc­ca­fo­gli, Elena Rotondo, Anna Maria Gozzi, Idana Rapi­nesi, Alfonso Gianni, Lorenzo Paluan, Gae­tano Con­ti­nillo, Raf­faele Toma­iuolo, Anto­nio Scri­mi­tore, Bianca Busato, Franco Astengo, Fran­ce­sca Gruppi, Vin­cenzo Leti­zia, Ros­sella Rispoli, Marco Russo, Roberta Maria Palma, Rosa­ria Maria Puca, Angela Gallo, Eleo­nora Pot­tino, Ales­san­dro Arrigo, Marino Marini, Marino Tam­bu­scio, Car­mine Mic­coli, Raf­faello Moraca, Renata Cam­pani, Chiara Redini, Ser­gio Job, Eleo­nora Mon­ta­gna, Anna Maria Ticozzi, Mar­cello Pro­ietti, Roberta Cre­scenzi, Pasqua­lina Andro, Anto­nella Costanzo, Elfi Rei­ter, Maria Ric­ciardi Gian­noni, Ales­san­dro Marocco, Elena Balbi, Giam­paolo Casa­dei, Ales­san­dro Pal­mieri, Mas­simo Iaco­vazzi, Ste­fano Ulliana, Angela Cec­cotti Espo­sto, Patri­zia Poli­telli, Carlo Fran­ce­sco Ridolfi, Vale­ria Squil­lante, Roberta Conti, Sal­va­tore De Luca, Alberto Volpi, Laura Lise, Michele Barone, Carlo Sta­gnozzi, Giu­lia Chie­re­gato, Bianca Maria Tognolo, Andrea Chie­re­gato, Fede­rico Lupo, David Bar­bera, Mar­cello Ron­delli, Ste­fano Fra­scaro, Ales­san­dra Balena, Mario Zor­zetto, Dome­nico Damiano, Gabriella Bor­roni, Gio­vanni Varelli, Giu­liana Bel­trame, Eleo­nora Bel­lini, Giu­seppe Gian­nini, Ric­cardo Tur­chi, Anto­nello Tedde, Carlo Rez­zano, Augu­sta Franco, Maria Gra­zia Pes, Chri­stian Fer­retti, Dona­tella Lorenzi, Nicola Zin­ga­relli, Giu­seppe Marotta, Patri­zia Tanda, San­dro D’Angelosante, Sal­va­tore Talia, Arianna Bet­tin, Roberto Cor­ciulo, Michela Castel­luc­cio, Giu­seppe Longo, Raf­faella Bat­ta­glini, Anna­ma­ria Spon­gardi, Fau­sto Gia­nelli, Andrea Sili, Diletta Libe­rati, Rosa­ria Greco, Carlo Crema, Valen­tina Mariani, Lino Gnocco, Piera Sog­gia, Mat­tia Giam­bi­lon­ghi, Roberto Sichel, David Sichel, Eli­sa­beth Sichel, Gior­gia Alioto, Morena Pigoni, Maria Dona­dio, Chiara Bene­giamo, Maria­lisa Bruz­za­niti, Milva Maria Cap­pel­lini, Arrigo Vidotto, Diego For­lin, Lorenzo Sdei, Cate­rina Stenta, Anto­nio Indolfi, Mas­simo Gatti, Nicola Capone, Mas­simo Mai­nardi, Marco Maf­feis, Nadia Soti­riou, Ste­fano Nun­ziata, Paolo Soli­meno, Maria La Salan­dra, Rosa Tra­versa, Daniela Val­di­serra, Anto­nio Mes­sina, Mar­tina Campa, Filippo Cataldo, Erica Bel­lia, Fran­ce­sco Valen­tini, Vin­cenzo Bel­lia, Valdo Di Nolfo, Alberto Bono­metti, Giu­seppe Ren­zetti, Patri­zia Cer­rato, Laura Fio­ra­vanti, Mar­cello Ravesi, Sal­va­tore Cer­ni­gliaro, Diego Car­delli, Carlo Ridolfi, Valen­tina Baiocco, Patri­zia Mal­tese, Rita Trin­chieri, Paolo Bene­giamo, San­dro Coz­zali, Patri­zio Smi­ra­glia, Alberto Mariani, Gio­vanni Gian­nini, Ales­san­dro Salza, Paolo Tieri, Sal­va­tore Tan­zelli, Ros­sana Lom­bardi, Andrea Cemin, Lore­dana Cal­la­rello, Nico­letta Mal­dini, Ric­cardo Lenzi, Monica Rava­lico, Ales­san­dro Var­ruc­ciu, Fede­rico Repetto, Elvio Cec­chi­nato, Gianni Di Rienzo, Nic­colò Ben­ve­nuti, Ste­fano Cal­chi Novati, Maria Ceci­lia Nata­lia, Vanessa Niri, Clau­dio Paroli, Mas­simo Mol­teni, Anna Coco, Tiziana Pom­pili, Maria Giu­sep­pina Medico, Gia­como Trombi, Angelo Donato Tam­bur­rino, Sil­via Idro­fano, Fran­ce­sca Sal­va­tori, San­dro Chie­bao, Roberta Mas­sani, Lucia Pasi, Mar­cella Inga, Vin­cenzo D’Errico, Maria Moretti, Cor­ne­lio Dri, Marco Cor­si­novi, Adriano Not­turni, Dona­tella Izzo, Mas­si­mi­liano Simon­cini, Fran­ce­sca Frati, Sil­via Baglini, Dario Cam­biano, Vera Spanò, Gior­gio Gri­maldi, Carlo Mor­gando, Gabriele Mar­cozzi, Fran­ce­sco Castel­grande, Rita Mele, Manuela Palermi, Ramon La Torre, Patri­zia Rub­biani, Bar­bara Alto­bello, Anto­nella Pic­chio, Angelo San­tic­chia, Tito Borsa, Davide Cor­riero, Tiziano Berardi, Luca Di Natale, Dante Fran­chi, Giusy Frezza, Daniela Rosso, Vale­ria De Luca, Pasquale Man­cuso, Vin­cenzo D’Amore, Ric­cardo Scardini,Gaia D’Agostino, Igino Gabriele, Fran­ce­sco Can­cel­liere, Giu­seppe Di Mar­tino, Anto­nello Mariano Gio­conda, Marco Pon­ti­glione, Gia­como Di Fog­gia, Enrico Toma­selli, Andrea Moli­nari, Titino Pra­tola, Ful­vio Molena, Fran­ce­sca Trin­gali, Gio­vanni Ago­sta, Maria Pia Inglese, Arianna Can­ta­galli, Giu­seppe Foti, Angelo Gel­mini, Cri­stian Ben­ve­nuti, Paola Tat­tini, Sonia Rota­tori, Mario Cuc­chi, Seba­stiano Galati, Nicolò Morelli, Mario D’Angelo, Donato Tam­bur­rino, Mat­teo Came­rini, Mar­tina Arge­nio, Tito Anto­nini, Sil­vano Simo­netti, Roberto Marro, Dome­nico Gatto, Cri­stiano Cant, Ros­sella Gian­cotti, Gisella Rossi, Fran­ce­sca Spa­gnuolo, Clau­dia Baz­zoc­chi, Roberto Solari, Roberto Musac­chio, Pino Stri­glioni, Alfonso Di Gio­vine, Irene Albo­netti, Fran­ce­sco Espo­sito, Ales­san­dro Mini­sini, Paola Altrui, Anna­ma­ria D’Alessandro, Andrea Buiatti, Ema­nuela Fat­tori, San­dra Bon­santi, Danilo Andriollo, Angelo Bavaro, Anto­nietta Cac­cia, Vit­to­rio Melan­dri, Anton­mi­chele de Tura, Fran­ce­sco Baic­chi, Arturo Casa­lati, Roberto Maggi, Luciano Guala, Ornella Gag­giani, Gianni Mon­te­la­tici, Dino Tolio, Wal­ter Manazzale.

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