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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Italians just overwhelmingly voted against changing the constitution even though they were really more interested in the soccer match (Italy beat Australia 1-0). The center right (that is Berlusconi and lackey's) majority of the last parliament massively reformed the Italian constitution. One key aspect was to increase the power of states (regioni) compared to the federal government (a sop to the semi seperatist lega Nord). Others were to recast the Senate as a body representing regions, to make the Prime minister more powerful and to reform the judiciary in a typically transparent effort to make them stop the gross anti democratic misconduct of investigating Berlusconi's innumerable crimes. Since the then opposition (now majority) opposed these changes, they passed with majorities of less than 2/3ds so the changes had to be ratified by a referendum.

Oddly no one (including your humble blogger) seemed much interested. For one thing, although I am a poll addict, I knew of no polls on the question and had no idea how the vote would go. Today (yesterday here in Italy) at an economics conference, many people were eager to finish on time (for once) to see the Italy-Australia world cup match, but no one but me mentioned the referendum.

It is true that, in spite of this, 53,6% of eligible voters voted (puts the USA to shame but, these days, ...*). 61,3% voted no. I am insterested in the vote as a "political" issue, which in Italian means its about who is prime minister (not that it is about policy). Even Berlusconi couldn't claim that this shows that the Prodi government has no support and should resign.

It is, by the way, odd, that the prime minister campaigned against a reform which would strengthen his office while the opposition campaigned in favor. Anyway good news. The leader of the Lega Nord, Umberto Bossi, said he would move to Switzerland if the reform was rejected. Sad to say, I'm sure the Swiss don't want him.

I like to think that I paid so little attention to the center right's absurd "reforms" because I knew they would lose the referendum, but, in fact, I had no idea. It is, as the framers of the rejected European constitution should know, a bad tactic to go to a referendum hoping people will vote yes on a ballot which has to refer them to the Gazzetta ufficiale (federal register in Italian) if they want to know what they are voting about.

Now I pass to the semi obligatory Kevin Drum quote. Kevin Drum writes (about another constitution)

I agree with Kevin Drum

ADULTS WANTED, PLEASE APPLY AT THE DOOR ON THE RIGHT....I plead guilty to not paying attention. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

But is the United States Senate, the world's self-styled "greatest deliberative body," really only one vote short of passing a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration? Have they gone completely off their rocker?
NO 61,3%, SI' 38,7%

In fact my colpa is much worse than I thought. I decided to inform Kevin that, in Italy, villifying the flag is a crime. Then I found out that it's not any more and hasn't been for months now. The center right eliminated the law makiing " villipendio alla bandiera" a crime. Don't think they believe in freedom of speach. It is a sop to the Lega Nord which likes to insult the Italian flag and wave something which looks like a marijuana leaf instead. In fact, Bossi is a strong opponent of all the many laws which make speach a crime in Italy, mainly because he regularly violates them.

Oddly Italians were very amused that there had been a law against burning the flag in the USA not noticing the law they had until this January.

Also blogofascistic (sorry blogomovimentosocialic) partisanship is a bit extreme over here as Pasquale Carterisano, who is clearly a leftist, denounces the center right for appallingly supporting freedom of expression. I admit that I am bitter because he seems to follow the news more closely than I do.

Finally what about the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano ? In parliamentary democracies such as Italy, the President is similar to a constitutional monarch -- expected to symbolically represent the Nation, uphold the constitution and never express an opinion which might be controversial (this is easy for Napolitano because he has no ...*). In this case, since the constitution is contested, he couldn't uphold either the current or reformed constitution. Napolitano rose to the occasion magnificently

"Fra affluenza e calcio, proprio una bella giornata".

"With the turnout and soccer, it was really a wonderful day."

Now that man symbolically represents The Nation.

*yes Arwen those are English dots and mean (...) or "omissis" in Italian.

arwen has left a new comment on your post "6/27/2006 01:30:00 AM":

la Svizzera non vuole quel "terrone" di Bossi, ne sono sicura anche io.

Hans has left a new comment on your post "6/27/2006 01:30:00 AM":

"I'm sure the Swiss don't want him".
The Ticinesi would. But then the Ticinesi are considered terroni by the Swiss beyond the alps (infact they think ticinesi are beyond the alps). Of course the people from let's say Basel are considered by let's say the people of Bremen as terroni. On the other hand/land/island Sicilians most certainly consider the Tunisians to be true terronis.
I have to cut this now because dinner is almost ready ! At 1940 ! very Swiss German.

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