What’s this all about?

If you have no idea about this, don’t worry, neither did I until I got the referendum slip through the post. It’s pretty big news, actually. Italy is trying to sort out its notoriously crappy parliamentary system which has resulted in 63 governments over the past 70 years and allows for too many contradictory laws. A referendum to reduce the power of the senate, remove “unnecessary” departments and reduce numbers of Senators will be held on the 4th December 2016… That’s today!

The system in place is pretty complicated, in terms of how people are elected and how laws are passed, I don’t fully understand the system as I’ve never lived there. If you would like to expand on what I’ve written (as always), please use the comments. As I understand the basics of the current system in place, for a law to be passed it has to gain 2/3rd majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. For certain categories of bills, if this is not reached (after a lifetime of passing the bill backwards and forwards between the houses for amendments) then it is given to the people to decide. This is why we have referenda so often. Both houses have equal power and can suggest as many amendments as they want until they agree on what the bill should entail and even then, they can’t agree on it.

Now, the current Prime Minister (or ‘presidente del Consiglio), Matteo Renzi has offered up a law to finally prevent all this passing of bills back and forth. It was agreed by both houses but without the required majority and now, legally, a referendum must be held. Thus, I find myself, for the second time this year, voting on a constitutionally altering referendum. This time, I haven’t had the pleasure of sitting an A Level Politics module on the matter.

Get more info:

An overview from Wikipedia

The Economist

London School of Economics blog  – Yes to the referendum

London School of Economics blog – No to the referendum

The London School of Economics blog has a very good running commentary of both sides if you are interested in learning more.

How am I going to vote?

Normally, my mum and I abstain from voting in Italian elections (despite having the right to) as we don’t live there and we don’t know the issues a hand. Yet, this time, we feel we must, after the outcome of “Brexit” and how detrimental that has been to Britain. We are, therefore, going to vote ‘no’.

Personally, I agree with many of the much needed reforms and I really want to vote ‘yes’ because of them. There are some minor points, however, which I fundamentally disagree with. I am very concerned about the possibility of too much power being given to the Chamber of Deputies. I am very concerned that experts – and my family – are raising the issue of the possibility for extremists getting into power. My main worry is that Italy has a predisposition, let’s say, to extremism.  A particular risk is the combination of the proposed constitutional reform and the ‘Italicum‘ electoral law that came into effect in the summer.

I do not want Movimento 5 Stelle to get into power. I’ve got enough UKIP in my hometown in England, thank you very much. That’s the risk if ‘yes’ win, it’ll be easier for an already growing tide of Eurosceptism in the EU to flood my second home, just as it has drowned my first. I don’t want that. If ‘no’ win and Renzi resigns, like he says (he’s retracted but that won’t quieten his opponents), then there is a real possibility of Berlusconi-supporting parties to get elected. Either way, extreme nincompoops get in.

It also worries me that this has, like the EU Referendum here, become a popularity contest. Renzi, why did you have to say you’d resign? Now people are going to vote ‘no’ to get you out of power. We won’t learn if the country truly want this reform or not. And investors are threatening to pull out of Italy if you quit! Equally, Movimento 5 Stelle and Lega Nord, why do you have to be on the ‘no’ side? It sickens me to place my vote in the same box as you will.

A ‘no’ vote means no change though. Italy can go back to the drawing board and come up with better thought-out reforms; there was a previous attempt, in  2006, so it’s unlikely the drive for reform will stop here. Either outcome will not affect me directly as I don’t live in Italy, but it will affect my family and it could eventually catch up with me. At the end of the day, my family do live there and do understand the complexities of this issue, so I have to take into consideration their views.

Here’s my proposition: we vote ‘no’. Renzi, do NOT resign! Stay where you are and go back over the bill, look at what the experts and the public do not like about it. Remove the extremist parts and then pass that bill. Then you can make real change to Italy and start the much needed reform.

We’ll see what the results are tomorrow…