Constitutional reforms in Italy: endless quest for elusory result

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Author: Tatiana Vasilieva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-4-85-99

Keywords: amendments; constitution; constitutional reform; Italy; referendum


The Italian Constitution, drafted by the Constituent Assembly on the basis of an agreement of different political forces, came into effect in 1948 already in the face of confrontation between the country’s largest political parties, the Christian Democrats and the Communists. The issue of constitutional reform was brought to the political agenda by the representatives of the ISP in the 1980s. In Italian society there is a consensus that changes should be made to the second part of the Constitution, which regulates the structure of the Republic, while the first part, which is devoted to basic principles and human rights, should not be adjusted. For a long time amendments to the Italian Constitution were adopted by the parliament, but in the 21st century three constitutional referendums were held on the complex revision of a chapter (2001) or a part of the constituent act (2006 and 2016). All these drafts have been oriented towards improving the efficiency of public authorities and adjusting the relations between the State and the regions. The revision of the constitutional provisions was part of the coalitional agreements and was repeatedly raised by the presidents of the country in messages to the chambers. Additionally, the necessary structures were created for the successful development and promotion of reforms, but the efforts made did not bring tangible results. Appealing to voters has strengthened the “rigidity” of the procedure, since it allowed for the rejection of two constitutional projects approved by the parliament. To a certain extent, this was due to the fact that the ruling class tried to overcome the political crisis in the country through constitutional changes, and there were serious disagreements on the methods for the reform’s implementation in the legal community, which traditionally is actively involved in the process of drafting and promoting the reforms. A negative impact was also experienced from the tactical miscalculations that were made during the 2016 campaign for the referendum, when the future of the Council of Ministers was linked to the results of the constitutional referendum and the majority of voters cast ballots against the reform in order to force the government to resign.

About the author: Tatiana Vasilieva – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Associate Professor, Chief Research Fellow, Acting Head of the Human Rights Department, Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Vasilieva T. (2018) Kostitutsionnye reformy v Italii: beskonechnyy poisk uskol’zayushchego rezul’tata [Constitutional reforms in Italy: endless quest for elusory result]. Srav­nitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 85–99. (In Russian).


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