Report. With 153 votes in favor, the Italian Senate approved new security rules. Physical clashes in the chamber left two injured.

The Salvini era ends as it began: in violence and chaos

A parliamentary clerk and a Senator, Antonio De Poli from UDC, both ended up in the infirmary after being shoved, De Poli with a dislocated shoulder. There were whistles, banners against the Lega’s former allies, the M5S, screams and pointless calls from the president on duty to restore a minimum of order. The debate in the Senate on the confidence vote on the Security Decree ended as it had begun—that is, with the Lega pulling out all stops to avoid that after the vote in the House, the Senate would definitively shelve Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration and anti-NGO decrees.

In the end, there was no avoiding the inevitable, and the senators at Palazzo Madama approved the new decree (in a process that ultimately came down to the wire, as it would have expired the next day) with 153 votes in favor, two against and four abstentions, including the senator of +Europa, Emma Bonino, who was critical of the government’s choice of what she called the “use and abuse of omnibus decrees accompanied by an inevitable vote of confidence.” The center-right decided not to participate in the vote at all.

Regarding the scuffles that took place on Thursday and Friday, Senate President Casellati announced that a preliminary investigation will be opened to determine who bore responsibility for what happened. In the meantime, the controversy has not died down. “The scenes with the Lega in the Senate chamber during these hours are simply shameful. They talk about legality and are the first to not respect the rules,” wrote Matteo Renzi on Facebook.

The PD’s Andrea Marcucci spoke of “unprecedented attitudes coming from the 1920s”: “Clerks shoved around, Senator De Poli forced to go to the infirmary and thrown down from the benches,” he commented at the end of the session. “The attitude of the Lega is one of intimidation, and they want at all costs to prevent the democratic exercise of the vote.”

Although Salvini’s decrees have been definitively retired since Friday, the new norms maintain some reservations toward NGO ships. The enormous fines, from €150,000 to €1 million, are gone, but the penalties remain, even if at a more reasonable level (between €10,000 and €50,000), for those boats who don’t obey a ban on entry into Italian territorial waters (which can be imposed by the Interior Ministry in agreement with the Ministries of Transport and Defense). The novelty is that it will take a decision by a judge to levy such a fine.

Another controversial point concerns rescue operations. As is known, the new rules allow such operations only on condition that the vessel involved in the rescue operation has first notified the flag country and the competent Rescue Coordination Center—including the Libyan one.

Another novelty is the creation of the System of Reception and Integration (SAI) of asylum seekers, which reforms the previous System of protection for holders of international protection and unaccompanied minors (SIPROIMI) introduced by Salvini to replace the previous SPRAR. The new SAI is divided into two levels of services: the first for asylum seekers, the second for those whose applications have been accepted, with additional services aimed at integration. Asylum seekers are also once again allowed to enroll in the municipal registry in their city of residence, with the possibility of applying for an identity card.

Furthermore, migrants present on the territory with humanitarian permits can have their permits transformed into work permits if they have a job, while foreigners who risk political persecution, torture or persecution because of race, sex and religion in their homeland—and also those who are at risk due to “sexual orientation or gender identity”—will not be rejected. These categories can apply for a humanitarian permit.

There are further changes to the decree on immigration flows: if the scheduled decree with the maximum number of legal immigrants who can enter for work purposes is not published during the course of the year, the Prime Minister can issue a decree on immigration flows anyway (at any time of the year), without necessarily having to comply with the ceiling of the previous year. Finally, there are changes regarding citizenship: applications for citizenship (by marriage or after 10 years of legal residence) must be resolved within 24 months, which can be extended to 36.

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