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Despite that the De jure right to hold a legislative referendum has existed since the Italian constitution was approved in late 1947, the necessary legislation detailing the bureaucratic proedures needed to have them was not approved until the early 1970s. Year 1947 ( MCMXLVII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1947 calendar of the Gregorian calendar. As a consequence of this, Italy's first popular referendum was not held until 1974, 27 years after the constitution was first approved. Year 1974 ( MCMLXXIV) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar of the 1974 Gregorian calendar.
The first constitutional referendum was held in 2001. 54 years after the constitution was approved.
A legislative referendum can be called only at the request five regional councils or 500,000 eligible Italian electors who sign an official validated petition and present a legal Identity document to the committee (usually a political party) collecting the signatures. A petition is a request to change some thing most commonly made to a government official or public entity An identity document, also called a piece of identification ( ID) is a document used to verify aspects of a person's Identity. A committee (some of which are titled instead as a "Commission" or other terms discussed below in) is a type of small Deliberative assembly that is usually intended
Then, the petition (together with the thousands of pages of voter's personal details and signatures) must then be passed to the Court of Cassation which examines the validity of all the data. The Supreme Court of Cassation (Corte Suprema di Cassazione is the major Court of last resort in Italy. After the signatures are verified the Constitutional Court of Italy examines subject matter of the petition itself. The Constitutional Court of Italy (Corte costituzionale della Repubblica Italiana is a Supreme court of Italy, the other being the Court of Cassation The court has the power to reject it outright. Many fully valid petitions with the necessary 500,000 signatures have never been accepted as referendums precisely for this reason.
Provided the constitutional court approves the subject matter of the petition, the government in office has to set a date for the vote. The timing can be crucial as turnout at the polling stations may be much lower in summer months when voters take their holidays and the quorum required for the referendum to be valid may not be reached. In Law, a quorum is the minimum number of members of a Deliberative body necessary to conduct the business of that group If the government in office falls (as is often the case in Italy) voting on the referendums can be delayed by up to a year.
The final hurdle is that the result of the legislative referendum is only valid if at least a 50% + 1 of all eligible electors go to the polling station and cast their ballot. A ballot is a device (originally a small ball—see blackball) used to record choices made by Voters Each voter uses one ballot and ballots are not If this quorum is not met, the referendum in invalid and, in practice, it is a victory for the nays.
The entire bureaucratic process can take more than a year and a half; from the initial gathering of 500,000 signatures in public streets and squares across Italy (which can take several months in itself up to a maximum of three), all the way until electors are called to the polls.
Voters often get confused at the effect their vote will have, as they are being asked to vote "yes" or "no" to abolish an existing law. For example in the 1974 referendum on divorce (which the Catholic Church had strongly petitioned for), voters were being asked whether they wanted to abolish a recent law allowing divorce for the first time in Italian history. Year 1974 ( MCMLXXIV) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the termination of a Marriage. Therefore those voting "yes" wanted to outlaw divorce as it had been before the law came into effect, and those voting "no" wanted to retain the law and their newly gained right to divorce.
The political party in Italy that is most closely asscociated with, and has made most use of, referendums in the last 40 years is the Partito Radicale (Radical Party) led by Marco Pannella. See Italian Radicals (disambiguation. The Radical Party ( Partito Radicale) was an Italian political party. Giacinto Pannella, better known as Marco Pannella (born May 2 1930) is an Italian Politician. They hold the record for most referendums presented. Despite only receiving around 2. 5% of the popular vote in most national elections, the numerous referendums they have proposed over the years have often mobilised the entire Italian political spectrum in support or opposition. They will often use unconventional methods such as prolonged hunger strikes and/or thirst strikes by their leaders to draw attention to their cause. A hunger strike is a method of Non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political Protest, or to provoke feelings of Their largest political battles came in the 1970s and 80's when they successfully campaigned for the right to divorce and the right to abortion. Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the termination of a Marriage. An
Other groups have also made use of referendums to raise the profile of their own small political parties or their leaders or to raise awareness of their respective political agendas. Signatures for referendums have been collected by parties across the political spectrum from the right wing Lega Nord (Northern League) opposing a law on immigration in 1998 (this was ruled as inadmissible by the constitutional court when presented), all the way to the left wing Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values) party when leader Antonio Di Pietro collected signatures in 1998 for a change in the electoral law to a full first past the post system. Lega Nord (Northern League LN whose complete name is Lega Nord per l'Indipendenza della Padania (Northern League for Independence of Padania) is an Italian Italy of Values ( Italia dei Valori, IdV is a populist and anti- corruption Italian political party, headed by former Mani Pulite Antonio Di Pietro (born on 2 October 1950 is an Italian politician The plurality voting system is a Single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member The Italian radical party and the right wing National Alliance were also collecting signatures for the same exact petition on electoral reform at the same time as Di Pietro's party, showing that often parties from vastly different political beliefs will agree on the same themes that they feel should be subject to referendums.
However, often political parties who are even in the same coalition will have very diverse opinions with regard to referendums. A notorious example of this came in 1999 when the right-wing National Alliance, led by Gianfranco Fini, was collecting signatures for two referendums to abolish political party state financing and a change in electoral law to a full first past the post system. National Alliance ( Alleanza Nazionale, AN is a conservative Italian political party. Gianfranco Fini (born January 3 1952 is an Italian Politician, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and current leader of National Alliance The plurality voting system is a Single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member (the Italian Radicals and Di Pietro's Italy of Values were also collecting signatures at the same time). Italy of Values ( Italia dei Valori, IdV is a populist and anti- corruption Italian political party, headed by former Mani Pulite Despite spending an enormous amount of manpower and party funds across all of Italy, his main partner in the House of Freedoms coalition, Forza Italia, led by former and soon to be prime minister Berlusconi, offered no political or financial support. Casa delle Libertà ( CDL; Italian for House of Freedoms) was a major Italian Center-right Political alliance led by Forza Italia (Forward Italy FI is a Christian-democratic, liberal and liberal-conservative Italian political party led by Silvio (born 29 September 1936 is an Italian politician, Entrepreneur, Real estate and Insurance Tycoon, Bank and Media proprietor When voting for the referendums took place in 2000, Berlusconi almost abstained and said the vote was "mostly pointless" as he would take care of all reforms when he would return to power.
Afterwards when the house of liberties coalition returned to power in 2001, Berlusconi did not abolish political party financing and even reintroduced proportional representation into the electoral law. Critics pointed out that these new measures, approved even with the parliamentary votes of Alleanza Nationale itself, were proof that Fini and his party had made a complete Volte-face and abandoned some of their core political reforms in order to stay in power. Volte-face (vôlt-fäs' vôl'tə- is a total change of position as in policy or opinion an About-face. It was also seen as proof that Fini's influence in the coalition was not as strong as many were led to believe.
Over the years various criticisms of the legal processes legislative referendums are subjected to have been raised, but as of 2007, no reforms have been made to the constitutional law in this aspect.
Criticism has been made with regard to the following:
Despite the fact that the results of referendums that meet the quorum are legally binding, successive Italian governments have repeatedly re-introduced laws that are very similar to those that have been abolished by the public. Critics have cited this practice as a blatant disregard of the results of the democratic referendums.
A notorious example of this is the law on political party financing. The law states that after an election, every political party that has been elected to parliament is entitled to a monetary "refund" (taken from public funds) for every single vote they obtained. The Italian public has voted to abolish this law in legislative referendums in 1978 and again in 1993. Both referendums meet the quorum, but the law was reinstated under different terms. A third legislative referendum was held again in 2000 to abolish party financing but it failed to meet the quorum, however, of those who did vote, over 70% voted to abolish the law for the third time.
Another example of this practice concerns Italy's electoral law. In an effort to move Italy to a more stable form of government with an alternating 2 party system, referendums were held in 1991 and 1993 to abolish laws allowing full proportional representation in elections to the Italian Parliament. Proportional representation (sometimes referred to as full representation or PR is a category of electoral formula aiming at a close match between the percentage of votes Despite both referendums meeting the quorum, and a new first-past-the-post electoral system being used in Italian national elections in 1996 and 2001, the Berlusconi government in 2005 fully reinstated proportional representation under a new law. The plurality voting system is a Single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member
The practice of successive governments re-introducing laws that have been abolished by the public has been cited as a major factor in voter apathy in the use of referendums as a democratic tool. In Politics, voter fatigue is the apathy that the electorate can experience when they are required to vote too often Critics allege that this is the main reason that no referendums have been able to meet the quorum since 1995, despite high voter turnout for national and regional elections held in the same years.
A constitutional referendum can be called only when a constitutional law or constitutional amendment has been approved by both legislative Chambers of the Parliament of Italy (the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Italian Senate) with a majority of less than two thirds in both or either Chamber, and only at the request of one fifth of the members of either Chamber, or 500,000 electors or five regional councils. The Parliament of Italy ( Parlamento Italiano) is the national parliament of Italy. The Italian Chamber of Deputies ( Camera dei Deputati) is the Lower house of the Parliament of Italy. The Italian Senate ( Italian: Senato della Repubblica, 'Senate of the Republic' is the Upper house of the Parliament of Italy.
In contrast to the legislative referendums, the constitutional referendum is confirmative. This means a "yes" vote means you want to retain the law, (whereas voting "yes" in a legislative referendum means you want to abolish the law)
In addition, a constitutional referendum is not subject to a quorum and is valid regardless of how many electors go to the polling station
It is forbidden to call a referendum regarding financial laws, laws relating to pardons, or the ratification of international treaties: it is therefore not allowed to vote to abolish a tax, to pardon a criminal (note that ancient Rome used to have exactly such an institution, the provocatio ad populum), or against Italy's participation in NATO or the EU Constitution. A Treaty is an agreement under International law entered into by actors in international law namely States and International organizations. In the sociological field, crime is the breach of a rule or Law for which some governing authority or force may ultimately prescribe a Punishment Ancient Rome was a Civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC The North Atlantic Treaty The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE commonly referred to as the European Constitution, was an unimplemented international Treaty intended
The first further variation was the one-of-a-kind referendums in 1946 (before the consititution was written) in which voters had to chose between retaining the Italian monarchy or establishing a Republic. The House of Savoy (Casa Savoia was formed in the early eleventh century in the historical Savoy region A republic is a State or Country that is not led by a hereditary Monarch, but in which the people (or at least a part of its people have impact on its The republic won by a narrow margin.
The second variation was a consultative referendum held in 1989 in which voters had to express their opinion about conferring a constitutional-drafting role to the European Parliament. The European Parliament ( Europarl or EP) is the only directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU The referndum was held after an ad hoc Constitutional law was adopted.
Some political parties have asked, unsuccessfully so far, to held a referendum on EU Constitution. To held such a referendum a Constitutional ememendament or another ad hoc Constitutional law must be firstly adopted.
Italian citizens living outside of Italy have always had the right to vote in all referendums and elections being held in Italy (provided they had registered their residence abroad with their relevant consulate). However until late 2001, any citizen wishing to vote, was required to physically return to the city or town in Italy where he or she was registered on the electoral roll. The electoral roll (or electoral register) is a listing of all those registered to vote in a particular area The only exception to this rule was for the Italian elections to the european parliament in which voters could cast their ballot at their nearest consulate but only if they had their residence in one of the other 14 EU countries. The European Parliament ( Europarl or EP) is the only directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU The European Union ( EU) is a political and economic union of twenty-seven member states, located primarily in
Until 2001 the Italian state offered citizens living abroad a free return train journey to their home town in Italy in order to vote, however the portion of the train journey that was free of charge was only on Italian soil. Any costs incurred in getting from their place of residence abroad to the Italian border had to be covered by the citizen wanting to vote, therefore a free return train journery was hardly an incentive for the large Italian communities living as far away as in the United States, Argentina, Brazil or Australia. In Economics, an incentive is any factor (financial or non-financial that provides a motive for a particular course of action or counts as a reason for preferring one choice The United States of America —commonly referred to as the For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Argentina topics. |utc_offset = -2 to -4 |time_zone_DST = BRST |utc_offset_DST = -2 to -5 |cctld For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. For this reason very few Italians abroad made use of this right to vote, unless they lived in cities and towns that bordered to Italy such as in Germany, Switzerland, France and Austria. Various Italian minorities living abroad (notably in the United States) protested frequently at this lack of political representation especially if they paid taxes on property owned in Italy. In Politics, representation describes how political power is alienated from most of the members of a group and vested for a certain time period in the hands of a small subset
After decades of petetioning and fierce debate, the Italian government, in late 2001, finally passed a law allowing Italian citizens living abroad to vote in elections in Italy by postal ballot. An absentee ballot is a Vote cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official Polling station. Italians wishing to excise this right must first register their residence abroad with their relevant consulate. The first referendum voted on by Italians living aboard by postal ballot was in 2003.